AssetCool, a thermal metaphotonics company out of the University of Manchester, has completed a £2.25m Series A funding round.

Northern Gritstone, the investment business focused on university spin-outs and technology-enabled businesses in the North of England, led the investment, joining existing shareholders Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, managed by Mercia Asset Management and Kero Development Partners.

AssetCool has developed a novel, durable coating, which can be applied to overhead power lines to increase the performance of electricity networks while reducing energy losses, cost and emissions.

The photonic materials-based coating improves the current carrying capacity of overhead transmission and distribution lines by up to 30 per cent, allowing more electricity to pass through conductors.

In addition to this, up to a 10 per cent reduction in power losses can be achieved, abating the need for further carbon-emitting power generation.

Population growth, combined with the adoption of electricity-intensive products, such as electric vehicles, and the integration of renewables are placing global electricity networks under significant strain, leading many power networks to enter capacity constraints on their overhead lines.

The cost of replacing overhead conductors or building new lines to increase capacity is significant. AssetCool’s coating acts to reduce conductor operating temperatures using passive radiative cooling, providing a cost-effective way to increase grid capacity and reduce power losses and carbon emissions.

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In addition to coating new overhead conductors, AssetCool has developed techniques to retrofit existing electricity networks, including through the use of aerial coating robots.

The retrofit solution will further increase AssetCool’s reach and impact, enabling more network operators globally to benefit from the cost and carbon savings the technology brings.

The company was co-founded by Dr. Niall Coogan at the University of Manchester in 2016 whilst on the EPSRC Power Networks Centre for Doctoral Training.

AssetCool relocated to Nexus on The University of Leeds campus in 2019, where its team of physicists, formulation chemists, power engineers and mechatronics experts can benefit from the university’s extensive network of experts and world-leading research in photonics.

The funding will allow the company to advance with the commercial rollout of its coating, as well as to further develop techniques to retrofit the existing grid network with AssetCool’s technology.

Coogan, co-founder and managing director of AssetCool, said: “With grid infrastructure becoming a frequent bottleneck as growing populations demand greater levels of electricity, we believe that our photonic coating and related in-situ application technology can offer a discontinuous reduction in costs for adding capacity to overhead lines, helping to facilitate electrification around the world.

“We are excited with the continued support of our existing investors and to attract new investment from Northern Gritstone. This investment will allow us to further accelerate our commercial roll-out and develop effective techniques to fit it to existing networks.”

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Duncan Johnson, Northern Gritstone CEO, said: “As the modern world becomes increasingly reliant on the energy grid to provide electricity for sustainable modes of transport such as electric vehicles, the bottleneck in transmission networks is becoming ever more prevalent.

“AssetCool’s innovative technology provides a solution to increasing the capacity and efficiency of these networks that has the potential to transform the energy transmission process across the globe.

“With links in both the Universities of Manchester and Leeds, AssetCool is a living example of the breadth of the technology ecosystem in the North of England. We look forward to working with Niall and his team as they continue to develop their technology and roll it out across the energy grid.”

Northern Gritstone is a groundbreaking investment company, which is dedicated to supporting the commercialisation of academic spin-outs and IP-rich businesses based in the North of England.

Launched in July 2021 by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, it was founded with the philosophy of profit with purpose, combining strong returns for investors with wider positive, societal and economic impact, including supporting Levelling Up and high-skilled job creation in the North of England.