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£19.5m award to boost growth in Foundation Industries and drive towards Net Zero

£19.5m award to boost growth in Foundation Industries and drive towards Net Zero

£19.5m has been awarded by Innovate UK to the Materials Processing Institute and other members of the recently established Foundation Industries Sustainability Consortium (FISC).

This award is to run the Economic Material Innovation for Sustainable and Efficient use of Resources (ECONOMISER) program that will develop a network of scale-up centres to support innovation in industry and academic engagement in carbon reduction, process improvement and product development in the Foundation Industries.

The Foundation Industries, Metals, Ceramics, Glass, Paper, and Cement are vital for the UK’s manufacturing and construction; combined, they are worth about £52 billion to the UK economy, making this investment in research, development and innovation essential to enable the transition to Net Zero.

The Foundation Industries Sustainability Consortium is a multi-industry multi-partner group that are collaborating to deliver a more resource efficient and sustainable use of materials flowing through the Foundation industries and their supply chains. The current partners in the consortium are:

• Materials Processing Institute - The UK’s national centre for innovation in metals and cement, it operates unique pilot and demonstration facility and focuses on industrial decarbonisation, advanced materials development, the circular economy, and digital technologies.

• Henry Royce Institute - A £250m investment featuring nine universities focused on world class materials research and accelerating exploitation.

• Centre for Process Innovation - A founding member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult focusing on process technologies.

Glass Futures Ltd - Delivering a globally unique pilot scale glass melting facility, providing a leading capability to test circular economy principles at scale for the construction, automotive and food and drink sectors.

These organisations will work together to address the sustainability challenges shared across the Foundation Industries with the ECONOMISER program supplementing the partners world class research facilities to support five themes:

• Circular economy

• Process optimisation

• Alternative fuels

• New material development

• Digital controls and sensors

The Materials Processing Institute will lead on the New Material Development theme, developing technologies that will result in stronger and lighter materials that require fewer materials or energy inputs. A priority will be on accelerating materials development across sustainable polymeric materials, low carbon cements and geopolymers, and materials for nuclear fusion reactors. The investment in facilities at the Institute will accelerate materials development and then scaling up to a meaningful size to simulate real life operation.

Joe Lee, ECONOMISER Project Manager for the Materials Processing Institute commented: “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.”

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, CEO at the Materials Processing Institute added: “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.”

Click here to link to the UKRI announcement -

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4 October 2022