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Global giant Shell helping Edinburgh innovators to harness power of air turbulence

 
Steve Vance
Sanwal Muneer, chief executive, Capture Mobility (Source: Capture Mobility)

Capture Mobility’s award-winning roadside micro-turbine can generate electricity from the turbulence of passing traffic – enough to supply an average-sized home for 24 hours. Integrated solar panels at the top of the turbine add extra energy to the system during the day and air filters inside the fins of the turbines also help to clean the air, capturing CO2.

“Air pollution is one of the main causes of premature deaths in the world,” explains Capture Mobility chief executive Sanwal Muneer. “Of all the major global health risks, outdoor air pollution in the form of fine particles is found to be much more dangerous for public health than previously known – contributing annually to over 2 million premature deaths worldwide.

“That's why we wanted to make something that was easily scalable and could target air pollution and the energy crisis simultaneously.”

Award-winning

Capture Mobility’s turbine has won numerous awards, including the UN Clean Energy Award and UK Trade & Investment’s Outstanding Achievement award. It was also an Innovation Finalist in Falling Walls Venture Berlin, an international forum for outstanding science based start-ups, and was recognised in the Scottish VIBES Awards, for companies taking significant steps to improve or reduce their impact on the environment.

The company’s turbine can be placed by the side of highways, metro train tracks and other low-height areas where wind is generated. Transport Scotland, the government transport agency, and Dundee City Council were the first to trial the turbine in a pilot project at the side of the A90 in Dundee.

“We’ve had amazing results from the pilot project in Dundee,” Muneer says. “Moving forward, we’ll be setting up more turbines on the major highways in Scotland to power up things like traffic lights, speed cameras and vehicle counting stations.

“We’ll also be doing a project with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to install help units in remote regions where people go hiking or cycling. In another project, we’ll be installing turbines on the Forth Road Bridge to illuminate it with 100% green energy in night time.”

Sanwal Muneer, chief executive, Capture Mobility:

I believe having our HQ based in Edinburgh has been a great decision for us. From here, things have progressed for us not only in Scotland but across the whole of the UK. The network of angel investors, mentors and clean tech companies here has helped us to move in the right direction."

International support

Shell is another big supporter. Capture Mobility is one of only six companies globally chosen to collaborate with the energy giant in providing clean energy to off-grid areas all over the world, starting with Brazil.

“We are now working with Shell and have got orders in the pipeline from France, China, Brazil and Chile,” Muneer explains. “In future, we are planning to export our product for five to six years before licensing out our technology. In the coming year, we’re also planning to power up electric car charging stations with our turbine, so people would be sure of 100 per cent green energy.”

Muneer studied electrical engineering and co-founded the company with chief technology officer Asad Liaquat and chief financial officer Sidra Muneer, Sanwal’s sister and in 2015, Muneer moved from Pakistan to Scotland.

Edinburgh base

Capture Mobility is now based at the Ideas Lab of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), which aims to bring together low-carbon leaders from the fields of business, science and finance to collaborate on smart environmental ideas.

“When we first came in Scotland we had no idea who to talk to to grow our business,” Muneer says. “But the support of ECCI and UKTI helped us to make right moves at the right time. ECCI helped us exclusively in connecting us to the right people, which helped us to accelerate and grow quickly.”

The company has also been supported by City of Edinburgh Council and national agencies including Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and Business Gateway.

“I believe having our HQ based in Edinburgh has been a great decision for us,” Muneer says. “From here, things have progressed for us not only in Scotland but across the whole of the UK. The network of angel investors, mentors and clean tech companies here has helped us to move in the right direction. Although we are at a very early stage, the kind of traction we have received from the Scottish media and the councils was very helpful to get many clients in the pipeline.”

Muneer describes Edinburgh as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world” and adds: “The air is so fresh that you get addicted to running every morning.”

“Apart from that, it’s a business hub that attracts innovation,” he continues. “You meet a lot of new people, you share your ideas – and you get new ideas. That’s the fuel for entrepreneurship.

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