Actuation Lab secure government funding for novel gas valve development

Actuation Lab have been awarded £570,000 from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero to progress a novel gas valve, designed to improve gas distribution efficiency and support hydrogen flow control.

The funding has been secured from Phase 9 of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, made available through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio as part of the Disruptive Technologies theme. It will see Actuation Lab advance the commercial readiness of their proprietary Dragonfly Valve.

The Dragonfly Valve has a novel origami-inspired mechanism which removes many components that usually wear, decreasing the energy required to operate and reducing maintenance needs. In comparison, many of the gas valves currently used in the network have designs which require more energy to operate and have interfaces that are more likely to wear over time.

Actuation Lab's Dragonfly Valve

As we adopt hydrogen more broadly in our energy system, it will be critical to ensure that valve designs remain appropriate to meet current and future safety requirements, while improving efficiency and limiting any negative impact on the natural environment.

To ensure fit-for-purpose development, the team have garnered support from gas distribution network Wales & West Utilities (WWU), who supply 7.5 million customers in Wales and the south-west of England. The WWU team will provide technical input to guide valve design and steering board input.

Matthew Hindle, Head of Net Zero and Sustainability at WWU, said:

“Wales & West Utilities is keen to see the Dragonfly valve rapidly develop into a commercial product. By providing our technical input alongside the funding from the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, we hope to help accelerate the development of the Dragonfly Valve into a solution that is fit for purpose on gas networks now and for the future.”

Simon Bates, CEO at Actuation Lab, said:

“This funding award and recent company investment show a clear commitment from the UK government, energy providers and early-stage tech funders to see real changes in industrial hardware in the energy sector. It’s a huge boost to have Wales & West Utilities supporting the development of our technology and will ensure that the innovations we bring to gas control are customer-led.”

Some members of the Actuation Lab team trying out their fireproof coveralls and other PPE in preparation for visiting a Wales & West Utilities facility.