The move to a more sustainable future can provide many opportunities for companies in the area of Research, Development and Innovation. As Irish companies, of all sizes, strive towards a low carbon future, many are thinking about developing, and investing in sustainable products, processes or services. For some this may mean adapting their business strategy, engaging with new or disruptive technologies, changing an existing product or even developing a new product. In this planning and development stage companies can often experience challenges as they move to a greener and more sustainable position.
Technology Gateways are at the forefront of assisting companies, wherever they may be on their sustainability journey. Expertise and support are available in a range of sectors such as Energy, Food and Beverage, Bioresources, Manufacturing, Engineering and IoT. Experienced researchers and engineers provide companies with a pathway to develop ideas and access the considerable range of skills, support and equipment available across the network.
Our 17 Technology Gateways are located nationwide, ensuring companies can benefit from the expertise of over 300 industry-focused researchers and engineers right across our Gateway teams. In recent years the Network has collaborated on a variety of sustainable projects. Read below some examples on how the Technology Gateway Network has assisted Irish Industry in areas such as energy appraisal, prototype design and bio resources.
Lambay Irish Whiskey and CREDIT Gateway
Lambay Irish Whiskey Company is a partnership between Lambay Estate Company and the French cognac distiller Camus. The two companies formed a partnership in 2018 based around a view to produce Irish whiskey on Lambay Island, initially ageing the product there and then manufacturing part or all of the product there.
Lambay Island is not grid connected and sources most of its electrical power from wind and solar installations, with a backup generator.
CREDIT Technology Gateway research staff undertook an energy appraisal of the current loads and forecast future loads and possible energy supplies including a battery storage system. This involved installing electricity metering on the island with dedicated broadband connection which was capable of monitoring the electrical flows on the island with high accuracy. The company have now obtained an energy baseline for the island and know the impact that the new distillery will have on the island.
RainSurfer Limited and PEM Gateway
Rainsurfer Limited are a Dublin based company who design and manufacture innovative and sustainable rainwater harvesting solutions. Their current Prototype the HiRiser® is an independently powered pumping unit designed to collect rainwater through domestic roof/gutter systems and pump it from ground level to a storage tank at a higher elevation for domestic re-use.
The original prototype’s design utilised a coil of pipe connected to a plastic circular disk to form a spiral wheel which was used to pump the water, this was a component that Rainsurfer Limited felt could be improved significantly.
Rainsurfer Limited engaged with the PEM Technology Gateway to assist in designing and manufacturing a fully functional spiral component to replace the initial rudimentary design. The Gateway was also the main point of contact with the manufacturing company on behalf of Rainsurfer Limited and oversaw the entire manufacturing process of the next generation prototype of the spiral component.
Bord na Mona and Shannon ABC Gateway
Bord na Mona are a semi-state company who have had a remit to develop the peatlands of Ireland over the past 80 years, for the economic benefit of this country. This remit has now changed and Bord na Mona have begun to execute the biggest change of land use in modern Irish history. Some of these changes include Renewable Energy Development, Biomass Development, Waste Recycling, Health & Wellbeing, Eco-tourism and Community amenities.
One project in progress is the growth of 8,000 hectares of birch trees, with a potential significant application in the production of birch water Bord na Mona are exploring the possibility of using the sap extracted from these trees as a health drink, food and ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products.
Shannon ABC Technology Gateway has over a decade of experience in screening bioresources for a variety of commercial applications. A range of birch water samples were received from Bord na Mona and were tested for a range of analytes including vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates to support potential EFSA approved health claims, as well as shelf-life testing to determine stability
A report was generated for Bord na Mona detailing these results which included potential health claims that could be made based on the data and EFSA guidelines as well as impact of storage and processing on shelf life.
Medite SmartPly and PMBrc Gateway
Medite Smartply is a market-leading manufacturer of innovative medium density fibreboard (MDF) and oriented strand board (OSB) panels. Combining the very latest technologies, sustainable raw materials sourced from their own forests and customer-led innovation allows the company to produce products of the highest quality, defining the standards of engineered timber panels.
Medite Smartply believes that the next generation of wood panel products will be determined by scientific-led research and enabling technologies. PMBrc Technology Gateway has been an important R&D partner since 2012, providing technical support to the product development process with an increasingly important role in their development of ‘intelligent engineered wood panels’.
The equipment and expertise of the Gateway are not available to Medite Smartply in-house. By partnering with PMBRC, the company has been able to develop new solutions and products and get them to market quicker than would have been possible otherwise.
MCC Water Solutions and WiSAR Gateway
MCC Water Solutions is a family run business based in Donegal that operates throughout Ulster, with over 40 years’ experience in the pipe-laying and the water pumping industry. The company’s ethos is to protect the environment by sustainably harnessing our ever-decreasing water sources by getting the most from every litre that is used in irrigation systems.
The aim of the collaboration with WiSAR Technology Gateway was to investigate the feasibility of developing a mobile water dosing system for golf greens to allow the green keeper to accurately add various agents such as fertiliser or other chemicals, to the flowing water in a controlled and automated fashion, optimising the mix according to grass conditions.
WiSAR began with a full technical review of the client’s current mains-powered system. The next step was to determine the power source required to power the mobile dosing system. With the energy requirements scoped out, a lightweight rechargeable lithium battery was identified that could supply the current capacity required to run the system. A PCB was then designed and manufactured to connect the power supply, dosing pump, flow meter, LCD, micro-controller and relay.
The final stage of the project was to set up the dosing pump and to develop the firmware to control the signals from both the water meter and dosing pump to accurately control the addition of agents such as fertiliser and other chemicals, to the flowing water. The client created a test rig which allowed WiSAR to confirm the functionality of the components and the overall system, which is now fully operational.
If you have an idea for a new sustainable product, service or process or are in need of innovation assistance for an existing element, get in touch to see how we can help you develop a solution.
Check out more of our case studies here.