Projects aim to reduce waste and improve energy efficiency

Aerial photograph of waste disposal site with large amounts of iron scraps and many excavator cars in operation.

Eight innovative new projects announced today aim to transform the sustainability of the UK’s foundation industry companies and supply chains.

The projects have secured a combined £24 million of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding for industrially scaled demonstrator projects through the transforming foundation industries (TFI) challenge.

The competition, delivered by Innovate UK, ran from January to March this year, following an expression of interest phase at the end of 2021.

The opportunity forms part of the TFI challenge’s work to fund research and development projects that demonstrate future technologies, capable of addressing the resource or energy efficiency challenges.

Applicants were also required to show cross-sector and collaborative elements, with significant industry investment and opportunities.

Successful projects

A total of eight projects were successful in their applications, with extra funding being made available due to the strength of the project proposals.

Successful projects include European Metal Recycling Ltd’s project: reducing embedded carbon through transformation in foundation industries (RECTIFI). This will demonstrate novel materials handling and separation techniques to increase the quality of scrap for a more circular supply chain in the steel industry, also reducing emissions and exported waste.

A second project is led by Carbon Upcycling Technologies UK. This is an award-winning Canadian startup, which will demonstrate a solution that converts local low-grade, contaminated glass cullet into high-performance feedstocks for the cement industry.

As well as capturing carbon dioxide from cement plant emissions, the project will help reduce cement requirements in concrete mix through superior strength and durability performance.

The other winners include projects tackling issues that include:

  • sensor technology
  • heat and hydrogen production
  • bio-based resins
  • a range of waste re-use opportunities between different foundation industries.

New innovations

Bruce Adderley, Challenge Director for the TFI challenge, said:

Underpinned by circular economy thinking the foundation industries and their supply chain partners are bringing forward a range of new innovations as they move towards a sustainably competitive future.

But these need to be demonstrated at scale if they are to be rapidly deployed in the UK, and taken to international markets.

That is why we are delighted to be able to support these projects, which have huge potential to address decarbonisation through inter-industry collaboration focused on resource and energy efficiency.

Further information


For further information please contact:

James Giles-Franklin, UKRI External Communications


About the TFI challenge

The TFI programme is supported by UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and delivered by Innovate UK. It will help energy-intensive businesses to share expertise and come up with radical new innovations to help reduce their carbon footprint.

The programme will inject significant new public and industry innovation funding into the foundation industries, helping us deliver against our vision of a cutting edge, innovative and sustainable industrial sector. £66 million will be provided by the government and £83 million will come from industry.

The ISCF brings together the UK’s world-leading research base with our best businesses to transform how we live, work and move around. It will put the UK in the best position to take advantage of future market opportunities.

About UKRI

UKRI is the UK’s largest public funder of research and innovation and is composed of seven disciplinary research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

Annually, we invest more than £8 billion to advance our understanding of people and the world around us and deliver benefits for society, the economy and the environment.

Working in partnership, we aim to shape a more connected and agile research and innovation system in the UK that is an integral part of society. This will give everyone the opportunity to participate and to benefit.

Find out more in our new five-year strategy, transforming tomorrow together.

Additional information on competition winners


Lead: European Metal Recycling Limited


  • Swansea University
  • Tata Steel UK
  • Darlow Lloyd and Sons
  • Aggregate Industries.

Demonstration of novel materials handling and separation techniques to increase scrap quality and produce a byproduct for the cement industry.

£3.4 million grant, £10.9 million project cost.

Region: North West and South Wales.

Intelligent robotic inspection for foundation industry optimisation demonstration (IRIFIO:D2)

Lead: I3D Robotics Ltd


  • Glass Technology Services
  • The University of Sheffield
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • IS-Instruments
  • Glass Futures
  • Visionmetric
  • Sarginsons Industries
  • Forterra Building Products
  • Wienerberger
  • Ibstock.

Application of robotics and sensor tech to enhance production process efficiency.

£2 million grant, £4 million project cost.

Region: South East, North East, North West and Midlands.

Cement 2 zero

Lead: Materials Processing Institute


  • University of Cambridge
  • Atkins
  • Celsa Manufacturing UK
  • Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering
  • Brewster Brothers
  • Tarmac Cement and Lime
  • Day Group.

Using end of life cement as an electric arc furnace flux to produce steel, whilst also capturing the slag for use in the cement industry.

£3.3 million grant, £6.7 million project costs.

Region: North East and South Wales.

The valorization of contaminated waste glass to produce locally sourced, low-carbon cement at the Cemex Rugby cement plant

Lead: Carbon Upcycling Technologies UK Ltd


  • Glass Technology Services
  • Cemex UK
  • MKD32.

Carbonation of post-consumer glass using flue gas emissions from the cement plant for use as an supplementary cementitious material in the cement industry.

£2.6 million grant, £6.2 million project costs.

Region: Midlands.

Mevocrete: the scale up of material evolution technology for net zero emission concrete

Lead: Material Evolution Ltd


  • Materials Processing Institute
  • Teeside University
  • Celsa Manufacturing UK
  • LKAB Minerals
  • Nanomox
  • Enursan
  • Retaining UK
  • Geocast
  • Playfair Capital
  • ZTL Contracting.

Use of historical industrial by-products and waste from the chemical industry to produce carbon-negative cement.

£3.1 million grant, £7.6 million project costs.

Region: North East.

Hydrogen and value-added-carbon production through waste heat recovery (Hy-Value Recovery)

Lead: Q-Flo Limited


  • Tata Steel UK
  • University of Cambridge
  • Great British Sports Cars
  • Glass Futures
  • United Aerospace
  • Almath Crucibles.

Waste heat capture from steel and glass to convert waste methane into hydrogen for use as a process chemical.

£3.5 million grant, £7.1 million project costs.

Region: North West, South Wales and Midlands.

Bioresin optimisation for needed development in the foundation industries (BONDIFI)

Lead: Cambond Limited

  • Bangor University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • Solomon and Wu
  • Lunts Castings
  • Water Intelligence International.

Production of bio-based resin and use of industry waste to create wood panel construction products and moulds for metal products.

£3.5 million grant, £7.3 million project costs.

Region: South East, North Wales, Midlands and North East.

Flue2Chem: building a UK value chain in converting industrial waste gases into sustainable materials for consumer products

Lead: Unilever Global IP Limited


  • Tata Steel Uk
  • UPM-Kymmene UK
  • Holmen Iggesund Paperboard
  • The University of Sheffield
  • Carbon Clean
  • Loughborough University
  • Johnson Matthey
  • Croda Europa
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Centre for Process Innovation
  • Confederation of Paper Industries
  • BASF
  • Reckitt Benckiser Health
  • Society of Chemical Industry.

Development of a new business model and capability to utilise industrial waste gases to produce an affordable feedstocks and chemicals for use in the production of consumer products in the UK.

£2.7 million grant, £6.7 million project costs.

Region: North West, North East, Midlands, South East and South Wales.

Top image:  Credit: kokouu, E+ via Getty Images

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