The University of Southampton

Perpetuum has potential to be world-beating, says new Chief Executive

Published: 
8 December 2004
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University of Southampton spin-out company Perpetuum Ltd has appointed technology business specialist Roy Freeland as its Chief Executive Officer. The company, which has been founded by academics at the University's world-class School of Electronics and Computer Science, harvests kinetic energy from the environment and puts it to use in a range of innovative ways. 'This is very exciting technology,' said Roy Freeland. 'Thanks to the work at the School, Perpetuum has the opportunity to become a market leader in providing self-sustaining power sources for sensor systems. Everyone I have spoken to is enthusiastic about its possibilities. It is environmentally friendly and has many applications in so many areas.' Roy has more than 20 years experience at senior level for leading companies in the international automotive, defence and aerospace markets. He has also recently been mentoring young companies at the University's Chilworth Science Park. 'In recent years there has been a significant change in the quality of support from the University in establishing new businesses, he commented. 'I have taken advantage of the incubation support offered by SETsquared, which gave us a terrific start. 'Being involved in a spin-out from the School of Electronics and Computer Science is very exciting, due to the quality of the research expertise on which the company can draw,' he added. Using cutting edge technologies, Perpetuum researchers have developed small, inexpensive wireless sensor systems with RF data transmission. The patented vibration harvesting microgenerator produces sufficient energy from relatively low levels of vibration to power the systems so they require no external power supplies or batteries. Among many potential applications, these could be used to monitor stress and find dangerous fractures by being embedded in structures such as bridges and aircraft, or monitor the health of rotating parts and moving vehicles. Future planned developments could lead to an everlasting heart pacemaker. Sensors in use at present are limited by the need for a power supply or batteries, but Perpetuum's version will capture its own energy from the environment. For example, a sensor on a railway track could reduce rail accidents by using vibration energy harvested from passing trains to report faults in the track or rolling stock over the mobile phone network. Work is under way to miniaturise the device to the size of a 5p coin. The company was formed by Professor Neil White together with ECS colleagues Steve Beeby, Nick Harris and John Tudor. Professor White said: 'The technology to power microsystems from the environment will have wide-ranging applications across many industries, where it will help to reduce maintenance and pollution from discarded batteries.' 'This technique has the potential to be world-beating in terms of power output,' said Roy Freeland.

Perpetuum has already received funding from specialist financiers IP2IPO and Sulis.

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