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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute


Sumit Roy wins place on prestigious ICURe commercialisation support programme for innovative flexible free piston generator technology

(6 November 2020)

Dr Sumit Roy DEI early career researcher from the Roskilly Research Group at Durham University has secured a place in the prestigious ICURe programme funded through Innovate UK, for the project entitled 'High efficiency fuel flexible free piston engine generator'.

The Innovate UK ‘Innovation to commercialisation of university research’ (ICURe) is a programme of commercialisation support for teams of academic researchers led by university early-career researchers wishing to explore the commercial potential of their research. It aims to improve commercial awareness amongst academic personnel, to develop and enhance the entrepreneurial skills of early career researchers, and to strengthen links between academic and industrial communities. It trains, funds and supports teams to that utilise their research, science or technology.

Professor Tony Roskilly is the Principal Investigator, and Dr Sumit Roy is the Early Career Researcher in the project 'High efficiency fuel flexible free piston engine generator'. As a result of this award Dr Roy will receive funding, training and support to validate and commercialise the innovative flexible free piston generator technology, through their project.

Their technology focuses on the development of an ultra-high efficiency, fuel flexible electric generator for multiple applications. The technology is based on patented free-piston engine (FPE) design. The technology is 60% smaller and 25% lighter than a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) generator and similar advantages over fuel cell technology. It has proven thermal efficiencies of between 40 and 50% and 30% higher electrical efficiency than existing reciprocating IC engine generators and similar electrical efficiency as existing PEM fuel cells. The system can operate either in 2 or 4 stroke mode, switch between liquid and gaseous fuels – even during operation. It has the potential of transition from low-carbon to zero-carbon fuels (i.e. bioethanol and hydrogen).

Each successful team will participate in a 4-month full-time online customer discovery programme designed using lean start-up methodology and funded by Innovate UK. They also receive up to £30,000 of funding to ‘get out of the lab’ and validate their commercially-promising ideas in the marketplace access to. The ICURe programme focuses on training early career researchers to find the right route to commercialisation, and will help them to develop the necessary business skills, connections and expertise to pursue their ideas.

More details about their technology can be found on