A Newbury based business has secured a £200,000 loan from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Funding Escalator to help it expand into areas that will benefit the environment.
Torftech has been producing TORBED* processors for over 25 years and is highly regarded throughout the sectors where the processors are in use. The technology was originally developed to improve processing efficiency in the manufacture of vermiculite mineral. It has subsequently been applied across a broad range of industries, where the precision and control offered by the technology offer significant benefits.
The greatest concentration has been in food processing, including snack food applications where the TORBED equipment allows the use of less fat whilst retaining superior flavour and quality. Torftech has also been operating in the waste reprocessing and biomass sectors and it is specifically in these areas, with their potential for significant ecological impact, the company is looking to expand further. In the field of sewage, animal waste and sludge disposal, Torftech is leading the way with reactors that use energy from the waste itself to process the waste and in certain circumstances producing a biochar side product which has extensive uses in soil improvement and remediation.
In biomass the environmental effect can be even greater, as finance director, Andrew Bride, explains: “In addition to production of biochar from biomass, a key focus for us is rice-husk fuelled power generation. Our processors have proven technological capabilities that can offer significantly reduced carbon emissions over coal-fired generation. An assessment by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change forecasts emissions savings of over 50,000 tonnes per year from one plant. To put this into context, it is estimated that the average UK household’s carbon footprint is around eight tonnes. If we were to realise our current pipeline alone, we could reduce CO2 emissions by millions of tonnes per year.”
The green impact of the technology extends further with its elimination of the production of crystalline silica rice husk ash, which is highly carcinogenic – the only technology on the market with this capability. Combining this environmental superiority with enhanced functionality, compact design and long life span (one processor has been in continuous use since installation in 1989), Torftech is well-established to take advantage of the increasing opportunities it faces, particularly in light of ever tightening environmental legislation. The expansion strategy focuses on a move away from bespoke solutions in favour of rolling out existing Torftech technology across key sectors where replication is appropriate. To realise this, the company is looking to grow its sales and supporting staff, increasing the team by two-thirds over the next two years. The TVB Expansion Loan will be used to enable this as well as marketing the existing TORBED products.
Cheryl Weeks, Fund Manager at The FSE Group which manages the TVB Expansion Loan Scheme on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), says: “With a raft of proven, patented technology that can be applied across a broad spectrum of industries, Torftech now has a key opportunity to exploit its past experimental and bespoke activity for repeated applications. We are pleased to be supporting them as they realise their growth ambitions.”
The Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator is a £8.3m initiative funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP to support job creation and economic prosperity in Berkshire. The escalator, which includes four different loan schemes and a growth equity fund, provides eligible companies – from start-up to established – with loans and equity funding between £25,000 and £250,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities. *TORBED is a registered trademark of Mortimer Technology Group Ltd