Aeristech part of Cummins-led consortium that will accelerate the development of air handling technologies for hybrid and fuel cell powertrains

Huddersfield, U.K. — Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), the lead organisation of a consortium focused on decarbonising heavy-duty powertrains, announced today that the Government and industry funded project, TRIDENT will accelerate British development of air handling technologies by three years. The funding allows Cummins and its partners to allocate additional engineers and resources to develop new air handling technologies for hybrid and fuel cell powertrains.

Aligned with U.K. Government ambitions, the collaborative project led by Cummins, seeks to reduce CO2 emissions and improve air quality by building a U.K. supply chain for the next generation of heavy-duty turbochargers.

Cummins, a leading supplier of turbocharger technology for more than 60 years with rich company heritage derived from the Holset brand, is well-positioned to lead the consortium with partners University of Bath, Holtex Ltd and Aeristech. Brett Fathauer, Executive Director – Research & Engineering for Cummins Turbo Technologies said, “The funding that Cummins and our partners received from the Advanced Propulsion Centre is critical to helping us deliver CO2 and fuel consumption improvements across a variety of power solutions.”

“Additionally, we expect to accelerate our development of air handling technologies for hybrid and fuel cell powertrains by three years, as we continue our focus on developing and offering technologies that are better for our customers, the environment and our communities.”

The TRIDENT project supports the U.K.’s long-term capabilities to reduce CO2 and improve air quality for future generations, a clear ambition which is a focus for all levels of Government. This was once again highlighted at the recent G7 Summit in Cornwall where world leaders stood by the ongoing global commitment to halve global emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

While immediate purchases of on-highway zero-emission vehicles remain focused on cars and buses, investment in long-term research and development is critical to meeting the demands of heavy-duty applications and aligning with zero-emission targets.

Duncan Kerr, CEO of Aeristech, said: “Working with Cummins in a partnership of this caliber is an outstanding opportunity to use our electric motor technologies in next-generation powertrains for hydrogen-fuel cell powered vehicles. Our technologies deliver the high performance and efficiency needed to increase the power output of the fuel cell by forcing air into the fuel cell engine using an electrically driven turbocharger. These hydrogen fuel cell systems are zero emission and we’re delighted to be working with Cummins to jointly develop new green technology solutions.”

Announced as a recipient of funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre in June last year, as part of the latest round of Government and industry funding for low-carbon emissions research, the announcement comes as the U.K. starts counting down towards the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), held in Glasgow later this year with more than 200 world leaders due to discuss climate action.

Jon Beasley, Business Development and Programmes Director at the Advanced Propulsion Centre, added ‘‘We are delighted to be working with the Trident project consortium. It’s an exciting time for the U.K. automotive industry as the country hosts world leaders for both the G7 and COP26 summits, it provides an opportunity to demonstrate how we are focussed on tackling climate change and taking significant steps towards clean mobility.”

“Our funded projects accelerate the development of low and zero-emissions technology, enabling solutions that can play a role in the decarbonisation of transport on a global scale. The Trident partners will be working together to advance the technologies that will not only move us toward 2050 targets, but also safeguard and create jobs within the U.K. automotive supply chain.” Building on extensive cutting-edge developments in every major component and subsystem across the mechanical and e-machines domains, Cummins and the consortium partners aim to create a game-changing energy recovery platform which delivers CO2 and fuel consumption improvements across a variety of sustainable power solutions, understanding that electric alone may not be suitable for some applications.

Day in the Life of Andy Phillips, Head of Product Engineering

The next part in our series on Aeristech employees is Andy Phillips, our Head of Product Engineering. Read what he has to say about life at the company and the exciting opportunities available.

Q: What do you do at Aeristech?

A: I’m Head of Product Development here at Aeristech, managing our team of skilled mechanical, electronic and software engineers to deliver our industry-leading air compressors.

Q: What kind of career path has led you to your current position?

A: I’ve worked in the automotive industry all my life at a wide range of companies, from large OEM vehicle manufacturers to small, high-growth start-ups.

I’ve found that the smaller, more agile, faster growing companies have allowed me to make the biggest contribution, along with enabling me to build teams that really perform. Seeing great products being developed by great people never fails to inspire.

Q: What excites you about working at Aeristech?

A: What’s not be excited about when you’re engineering state-of-the-art compressors for state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cells!

The range of fuel cell applications being explored is huge: passenger cars, HGVs, marine, passenger planes, drones – the possibilities are endless. Conventional battery-led electrification will not address the complex requirements of all these markets and that’s why there is so much interest in hydrogen as the prime power source. Our fuel cell compressors are a key enabler of all these applications and Aeristech is growing fast to service these opportunities.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

A: Every day is different and that’s why I love working here. Early mornings are about catching up with our operations team in China, followed by project reviews, design reviews and customer meetings.

Before I leave the office, I like to walk around our engineering team to find out directly from them what has gone well that day, the challenges they’ve faced and what I can do to help. Our big ambitions mean we have to put formal design processes and reviews in place, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still act like a small company and keep those informal feedback channels open – they work really well!

Q: How has COVID-19 affected the way the company operates?

A: Like all companies, we’ve adopted government-recommended safe working practices and increased remote working, but that hasn’t slowed us down. Regular teams meetings ensure we keep everyone involved in projects and one-to-ones with line managers focus on the professional development and wellbeing of our staff.

Q: What does 2021 have in store for the business?

A: We have several really exciting projects maturing in 2021/22 for many different applications, including aviation, which I am particularly thrilled about.

Q: Where do you see the industry in 10 years’ time?

A: A mature industry delivering an environmentally friendly electrification alternative to current battery technology, with Aeristech recognised as the industry leader enabling this transformation.

Q: Why should people join Aeristech?

A: We’re aiming to double the size of engineering team this year, so we currently have vacancies in a wide range of roles for both junior and experienced engineers: automotive electronics, power electronics, mechanical engineering and project management.

We find that junior employees tend to throw themselves into their roles and really immerse themselves in it, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. There are plenty of opportunities for promotion and to learn new skills. We’re looking for good foundational skills, but also the right attitude: enthusiasm and a willingness to get stuck in.

Q: Finally, what are the current opportunities at Aeristech?

A: Aeristech has big ambitions and is growing fast. We also have a clear product vision and are resourced to deliver.

Opportunities for personal or professional development are always much easier to provide when growth and resources are available – engineers who’ve experienced low-growth or stagnating companies will be aware of that.

Missed the interview with Luke Read, our Head of R&D? Click here.

Day in the life of Luke Read, Head of R&D

In a new content series for Aeristech, we've been interviewing members of the Aeristech team on what it's like to work at the business. Meet Luke Read, our Head of Research and Development.

Q: What is your role at Aeristech?

A: I look after the R&D department, which is a small group of engineers looking at innovation and how we can we progress the technology. Basically, we consider how can we make things smaller, lighter, faster and cheaper.

Q: How long have you been with the company?

A: 10 years.

Q: What kind of career path has led you to your current position?

A: I started in defence with the MOD, but found the pace too slow. So I began looking for a start-up I could join and was lucky enough to find Aeristech. I started as a mechanical engineer and soon became interested in the magnetics of our products and the general motor design.

This gave me a good overview of the product that the company was looking to design. From there, I began leading teams and eventually ended up looking after the whole R&D team.

Q: What do you find exciting about working at Aeristech?

A: Air compressors sound quite boring, but are very technically challenging. They spin very quickly, typically at 120,000-150,000 RPM. So we’re taking something that’s cutting edge and trying to make it into an everyday product, like something you might use in your car. We’re also trying to develop the hydrogen economy.

Q: What does a typical day look like?

A: There’s no such thing as a typical day – and that’s a good thing! We have the challenge of helping to make air travel and vehicles sustainable – that’s our job. Trying to progress a product inevitably involves challenges and finding ways to overcome them, so a typical day involves solving problems. Plus we’re creating products to support the hydrogen economy.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected the way the company operates?

A: Quite a lot of collaboration is needed between the mechanical, electronic and software teams. In order for collaboration to happen, people need to be in the office up to a certain point. People want to be on site, and we’ve allowed for that as much as possible while respecting social distancing.

But there have certainly been some advantages to the pandemic. Tools like Zoom and Teams allow collaboration to happen virtually, which gives us the confidence that it will work with people further afield. To produce our products, we may need to use technology that the UK isn’t particularly strong in. The new working practices we’ve introduced in response to COVID-19 have given us the confidence to go to specialists in places like the US and Switzerland. It’s slightly odd that we know these people well without ever having formally met them, but the pandemic has accelerated our ability to collaborate as it’s forced us down that route.

It’s also allowed us to recruit from around UK, instead of just in our local area. Although we haven’t recruited from outside the UK yet, I can’t see why that wouldn’t be possible at some point in the future.

Q: What does 2021 have in store for Aeristech?

A: We’re looking to significantly increase the power levels of our prototypes and we’ll also be making big improvements in capabilities like quality control and processes. Generally, we’re moving from a start-up mentality to one of a more established company. As the hydrogen economy has picked up, it’s given us the resources to develop the company and establish departments focused on quality control and processes. We’ll be looking to develop those in the next year and generally increase our power capabilities.

Q: Where do think the company will be in 10 years’ time?

B: Power electronics generally get smaller and more efficient, which leads to product size and costs decreasing. So fuel cells will become a much bigger part of our lives. Cars with internal combustion engines won’t be available to buy from 2030, so fuel cells are likely to play a more significant role. That will lead to greater public knowledge of fuel cells and, in turn, hopefully greater awareness of our company and what we do. Fuel cells should also have started making inroads into the air travel industry by then.

Q: Finally, what are the current opportunities at Aeristech?

A: Lots! We’ve almost doubled in size in last year. The UK has been quite ambitious with its emissions-reduction targets and we’ve been able to take advantage of that to grow the company. We’re looking for engineers who want to use cutting-edge technology in a “normal” way, as well as people who want to follow prototype development all the way through to a product development level in what is currently a very immature industry.

If you join an established firm, your job role might not change very much for the next 10 years. But at Aeristech, the change is likely to be much more constant as we’re always modifying the way we do things and looking into new industries.

Also, anyone with ambition joining now can make their mark in these early stages. You’ll have the chance to generate new IP and introduce something new that could be used in the final product.

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As we continue to grow, we're looking to hire more people that are interested in making a difference and being at the forefront of innovation. Learn more about joining Aeristech here.