The Materials Processing Institute, together with other members of the Foundation Industries Sustainability Consortium (FISC), have been awarded £19.5m to support the scale-up of sustainable technologies.
The Innovate UK award provides funding for the ECONOMISER Programme to support materials innovation for sustainable and efficient use of resources. The award will establish a network of scale-up centres to support industry and academic engagement in carbon reduction, process improvement, and production development.
The UK’s national centre for research and innovation in metals and cement, the Materials Processing Institute will lead on the development of new technologies to create stronger and lighter materials that require fewer components or energy inputs.
It will focus on accelerating materials development across sustainable polymeric materials, low carbon cements and geopolymers, and materials for nuclear fusion reactors. The investment in its Teesside campus will accelerate materials development, which can then be scaled up to simulate real life operations.
The Foundation Industries, comprising the metal, chemical, cement, ceramic, paper, and glass sectors, contribute more than £50 billion to the UK economy, making this investment essential in the transition to net zero.
FISC is a recently established multi-industry multi-partner group that is collaborating to deliver a more resource efficient and sustainable use of materials within the Foundation Industries and their supply chains.
Together with the Materials Processing Institute, the consortium is made up of the Henry Royce Institute, Centre for Process Innovation, and Glass Futures Ltd.
These organisations will collaborate to address the sustainability challenges shared across the Foundation Industries with the ECONOMISER programme supplementing the partners’ world class research facilities to support the five themes of circular economy, process optimisation, alternative fuels, new material development, and digital controls and sensors.
More widely, the award will support the upgrade and development of scale up facilities and cross centre collaborations to enable increased development and accelerated deployment of sustainable technologies. These facilities will be available for the Foundation Industries and its supply chain to access, trial, prove and de-risk technologies at scale.
Chris McDonald, Chief Executive of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “As a result of this Innovate UK award, this consortium can now deliver the developments they have planned and are essential to grow the UK economy and drive decarbonisation forward.
“The UK Foundation Industries emit around 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year, and no one needs reminding of the potential catastrophic impacts for the world if we do not act quickly and now to reduce emissions.
“The undoubted expertise in each organisation of the consortium can now be combined and channelled to support UK economic growth as well as carbon reduction, process improvement and product development. This award will help ensure essential research can be scaled up at speed.”
Joe Lee, the Institute’s ECONOMISER Project Manager, added: “The program will enable the Foundation Industries to access the best research, development, and innovation facilities. Scaling up research to assess its practicality is what we do and essential to ensure technologies can be commercialised to support net zero.”
Mike Biddle, Executive Director of Net Zero at Innovate UK, said: This funding will provide the sector with the tools needed to decarbonise. By developing a test bed of facilities that enable companies to ‘try before they buy,’ it makes it easier for business to develop innovative approaches to decarbonisation.”
Graham Hillier, Programme Board Chair, ECONOMISER, said: “By creating FISC the innovation centres that support the Foundation Industries are making a commitment to work together to address the challenges of making low carbon sustainable resource efficient materials for all aspects of the economy.”