Dynamic Flow Technologies of Loughborough has invented a smart meter which has now won intellectual property protection with the help of Midlands patent attorneys Swindell & Pearson.
In 2009 inventors Martin Croft and Duncan Wallace were approached by entrepreneur Nic Breese and Phil Wood, a former director of Severn Trent Utility Services, who saw the potential in unblocking a problem with waste water.
Now after seven years of hard work the company has come up with a solution thanks to £1.4m provided by shareholders, Government grants – including money from the European Union – and two industry partners, Elster, who manufacture meters and are now part of Honeywell, and Wessex Water.
When bills arrive from water companies they cover both supply of clean water and treatment of used water. But for industry the cost charged for treatment does not reflect the volume of waste water.
Dynamic Flow has invented a meter which measures the amount of effluent to provide an accurate reading, rather than a ‘guesstimate’. This could save some individual companies thousands of pounds per year, rather than flushing money down the drain.
“We know of one, a commercial launderette, which using our meter is already saving £600 a month,” said Martin, managing director of Dynamic Flow Technologies.
“The potential of industries, particularly those that use a lot of water such as brewing, food processing, textile manufacturing and sports centres and councils which use water for landscaping is limitless, and there are possible major annual cost savings after the initial installation.”
The device is a small box that uses low-energy microwaves to measure the effluent. This is housed on a terracotta-coloured box that is fitted to pipes either as a building is being constructed or afterwards.
It is already fitted to some buildings at Loughborough University, where the company is based at the Advanced Technology Innovation Centre.
All parts for the invention are made in this country, with the base unit made in Leicester by Valley CPI.
Derby-based Swindell & Pearson first lodged a patent application in 2010. Patents were granted in the UK in 2014 and the USA this year. A European patent is pending. “Eventually, we would like to see it as a global standard product,” said Martin.
“We are delighted with Swindell & Pearson’s achievements and the fact that they have been sympathetic to our needs as a small business,” said Martin.
The waste water meter also has other applications such as measuring surface water drainage, leakage and even blockages plus potential for further development.
Scott Harrison, an intellectual property director at Swindell & Pearson, of Friar Gate, said: “Dynamic Flow Technologies is a superb example of a small British hi-tech business that has developed an innovative product to serve a genuine need. We’re proud to be helping them to push their business forwards.”