Trinity Campus Company Wins Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Award

Posted on: 25 November 2011

The inventors of a new, energy efficient, air-filtration technology received an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Award in Dublin recently.  The recipients, Dr Aonghus McNabola, Dr Laurence Gill, Dr Niall O’Luanaigh of Trinity College Dublin’s School of Engineering, were presented with the award for successfully bringing this novel technology to the marketplace.  They did this through the formation of a new company called AERIAQ Filtration Ltd which has licensed the technology.

The company plans to manufacture and market the product in Ireland, focusing on office buildings. Initial export markets are the UK and Saudi Arabia.  Following office buildings, the company will seek to target more sophisticated ventilation systems such as cleanrooms, and eventually cars.

Presenting the award, Executive Director of Enterprise Ireland, Feargal Ó Móráin said: “The efforts of the team behind this technology and the resulting spin-out company are highly commendable.  AERIAQ Ltd is the latest of over 100 spin-out companies to be created since 2007 when Enterprise Ireland began working in partnership with Higher Education Institutes, including Trinity College Dublin, in a concerted effort to create new companies from publicly-funded research.”

The technology is the brainchild of Dr Aonghus McNabola from the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, who came up with the idea while sampling air for pollution studies. He and colleague Dr Laurence Gill have been developing the prototype and the company was recently formed to commercialise the intellectual property.

Breathing clean air in modern buildings and vehicles is something we often take for granted.  If outdoor pollution started getting in we would soon notice.  But that cleanliness can come at a cost: conventional filtration systems often rely on electricity-consuming fans and use filters which need to be cleaned or changed.

This technology takes a cleaner, greener approach. Rather than using motorised parts or filters, the passive air cleaning system AERIAQ uses its design to expel particulate matter and so it reduces costs and reliance on energy.

On receiving the award Dr Aonghus McNabola thanked Enterprise Ireland for funding the research through their Commercial Fund programme and for the support given to commercialise the technology through the help of EI’s Commerialisation Executive and Trinity’s Technology Transfer Office.

AERIAQ was designed to manipulate the fluid physics of air going through it and to reroute particles back outside while allowing the clean air through. Trials indicate a three-year payback on the device.

AERIAQ now intends to move the technology beyond prototype. The company will first seek to implement the system in office buildings in Ireland and has tendered for Irish manufacturing companies to develop the product. For exports the initial target is the UK and thereafter Saudi Arabia, and there are plans to develop the system further for more complex air handling systems such as cleanrooms and smaller installations for vehicles.