Project Overview

Howden and City, University of London’s Centre for Compressor Technology are currently working on a 5-year collaborative project - Smart Efficient Compression, Reliability and Energy Targets (SECRET) - which is supported by an award from The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) and led by Howden Chair in Engineering Design and Compressor Technology, Professor Ahmed Kovacevic.

This partnership specifically looks at the effect of clearances and heat transfer dynamics within the compressor and the resultant reduction in losses and gains in efficiency. 
The SECRET project is a continuation of the solid partnership between Howden and City, combining 30 years of Professor Ahmed Kovacevic’s research on screw compressors with Howden's market-leading technology, which is targeted at reducing leakages in rotating machinery by 20%, and improving the efficiency of oil free screw compressors by 2%, thus contributing to the European Union’s Global Net Zero CO2 emissions directive, which is line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015.

This project also contributes to advances in the development of Industry 4.0, in which the team seeks to transform traditional manufacturing and industrial practices with the latest smart technology. To realise this, the project will focus on the short-, medium- and long-term development of Howden's oil free screw compressors range.

The National Centre of Compressor Technologies will also jointly lead on research carried out by Howden and City, which is expected to transform compression technology.


Howden introduced oil injected screw compressors in the 1950’s, and developed new technologies to extend the range of such machines. Today, the company offers over 700 variants of screw machines for numerous applications, including oil and gas, refrigeration, air conditioning, and processed gas. I am proud to have been closely allied with Howden for more than 12 years jointly introducing new rotor profiles and compressor sizes, which continues to serve their customers with better and more efficient machines.

The Centre for Compressor Technologies which I direct at City, University of London is a world-leading research institute for these types of machines. With the support of Howden and the Royal Academy of Engineering, this project is destined to result in novel, more efficient, and reliable oil free machines. I am very excited about this opportunity.

Professor Ahmed Kovacevic

Research excellence and intensity at heart

Download your copy of the SECRET Project brochure


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Major Expected Outcomes

1. Test facility and validated numerical methods of heat-flow-solid interactions in clearances
2. Scaled-down compressor prototype with novel rotor profiles and smart clearance management system
3. Industrial prototype with integrated remote monitoring and self-regulating systems for minimization of energy consumption and increased reliability.

Apart of Howden and City, University of London, all industrial and academic sectors which deal with oil-free rotating machines, such as power recovery systems, food and pharmaceutical industries, vacuum pump applications and others will benefit from the knowledge, developed methods and devices built by this project. The UK public at large will benefit from the lower carbon footprint of these smart energy efficient fluid handling systems leading toward the net zero emission initiative and the wealth-creation with new jobs stimulated by this innovation.


Project Schedule

The project will be undertaken over 5 years, consisting of 3 stages divided into 16 separate work packages. The schedule includes key milestones such as:

  • Understanding physics
  • Building a prototype for concept validation
  • Building the commercial prototype

You can learn more about the project on the University of London page dedicated to the SECRET project


12th International Conference on Compressors and their System

Howden are delighted to announce our Platinum sponsorship of the 12th International Conference on Compressors and their Systems. This 3-day virtual conference is taking place on Monday 6th September to Wednesday 8th September 2021.

This event provides a forum where developments in air, gas and refrigeration compressors, vacuum pumps, expanders, related systems and components will be discussed in various forms including keynote addresses, research and technical papers and podium presentations. Howden will host a series of industry demos and presentations.


Meet the Team

The SECRET team is comprised of experts in their field. Come meet them.



Learn More about our Oil Free Screw Compressors

Oil Free Screw Compressor

Enter our global headquarters for Screw Compressor technology : the Renfrew Manufacturing Campus, and learn more about our Oil Free Screw Compressor range.


Grant received from RAEng

Howden and City, University of London secure grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering to develop novel energy efficient compression technologies


Nuclear fusion research project

Howden to supply world leading oil free screw compressor technology to the international nuclear fusion research project ITER in France

If you would like to submit an enquiry please get in touch.