Yorkshire ambassador Sir Gary Verity has officially launched a new energy technology development centre, praising Sheffield city region’s focus on advanced manufacturing excellence.

Sir Gary, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, formally opened the new Sheffield-headquarters of Libertine FPE Limited which will act as the hub of their cutting edge research and development work for linear motor-generator technologies.

The facility at Sheffield’s Vantage Park industrial estate will see Libertine continue to lead the way in research, development and prototyping of free piston engines and linear power generation systems to tap into cleaner sources of energy including agricultural waste, biomass and biofuels which are being developed across the world.

Sir Gary Verity said: “The volume of innovation and engineering advancement within the Sheffield City Region is becoming widely known both domestically and internationally and that is a huge coup for Yorkshire as a centre of advanced manufacturing excellence. It is no surprise that Libertine has chosen to locate its research and development facility here.”

Libertine’s new 6,610 sq ft unit, which is the first occupied unit at phase two of Vantage Park, was formally opened by Sir Gary following a £650k funding injection in 2017, led by the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).

He added: “It is key that South Yorkshire retains its place at the forefront of advanced manufacturing and continues to attract high tech companies offering pioneering work, attracting talent out of the universities and keeping innovation in the region.”

Libertine was established in 2009 to create linear machines for power and motion, drawing on decades of experience in the automotive and motorsport industries, consumer product engineering and low cost manufacturing techniques.

The result is a suite of ‘Linear Power System’ technologies that will replace the crankshaft in small engines, making them more efficient, more flexible, easier to maintain and much cleaner.

Sam Cockerill, founder and chief executive of Libertine FPE, said: “We are delighted that Sir Gary Verity chose to open our new facility here in Sheffield.

“Free piston technologies and linear power systems will play a vital role in the future of the internal combustion engine.

“The technologies that we will develop and prototype at this facility will generate electrical power from a wide range of low carbon fuels and renewable resources.

“We are engaged with Innovate UK on a project to demonstrate a modular Free-Piston Gas Expander (FPGE) prototype for small scale distributed heat-to-power applications using heat from biomass boilers.

“Our technology is also helping one of Asia’s most prestigious international universities, the Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) in Malaysia, supported by the PETRONAS oil and gas company, to develop power generator solutions for rural electrification using agricultural waste products.

“It was a clear-cut decision to locate along the Sheffield Rotherham border, an area which has an abundance of advanced technology based businesses and a skilled labour market that will be crucial for further recruitment and expansion of the business.

“We have doubled our workforce in the past two years and will potentially double it again over the next 12 months.”

Libertine employs eight people at the Vantage Park site and recently appointed Dr Lee Juby as its business development director.