Winner: AEA Technology Products and Systems

Runners-up: Gardner Energy Management; CompAir UK; Spirax-Sarco; Vacuumatic

With its V-tex product, AEA Technology Products and Systems has overcome the maintenance, disposal and cost problems associated with the traditional method of treating off-gases from industrial processes in a packed column.

The V-tex, which uses AEA’s power fluidics technology, needs no packing to treat waste streams, is resistant to fouling and requires virtually no maintenance. It contains no rotating shafts and no seals, requires no mechanical energy input in the body of the unit and has completely open internal geometry, with no static packings to become fouled, corroded or to cause cavitation.

The system is based on the principle of a simple vortex. Gas enters the circular, flat vortex chamber tangentially and moves inwards towards an outlet port mounted in the central axis of the chamber. At the same time, scrubbing liquor is sprayed into the centre of the chamber and makes contact with the rotating gas.

As the liquor passes through the gas, its droplets are centrifugally accelerated towards the chamber wall, where they are disentrained from the rotating vapour. This unique scrubbing action typically gives a removal efficiency of 99.9% or better for gaseous contaminants such as dusts, acid or alkali gases, halogens and other soluble contaminants.

A V-tex system is between a third and a fifth the size of a conventional packed column of equivalent performance. It is flexible enough to deal with a wide range of gas flows in a single stage.


Unlike other types of steam trap, Gardner Energy Management’s Gem Trap, a runner-up in this category, has no moving parts to wear out or fail. It is a venturi orifice steam trap which can work effectively over a variety of operating conditions.

Also shortlisted was CompAir UK. Design and manufacturing advances have produced four key benefits for users of its two-stage, air-cooled, oil-free rotary screw compressor: low noise levels; a highly efficient optimised air-cooling system; improved energy efficiency; and a reduced, simplified maintenance requirement.

Spirax-Sarco’s packaged clean steam generator is an all-in-one solution for applications where the quality of steam used for sterilisation or direct injection is of paramount importance. It greatly reduces the time and cost of installing and operating a clean steam system.

The idea behind Vacuumatic’s reel tab inserter system, meanwhile, is to be able to mark defects in high-speed web processes where material is wound from reel to reel. This is done by application of a self-adhesive tab that projects from the edge of the web so it is visible from a wound reel.