Scaling-up technologies for the foundation industries

Sparks flying while machine griding and finishing metal

Innovate UK has today announced a £19.5 million award to the Foundation Industries Sustainability Consortium (FISC).

The award will support the scale-up of sustainable technologies for the foundation industries.

This award is to run the Economic Material Innovation for Sustainable and Efficient use of Resources (ECONOMISER) programme.

The programme will develop a network of scale-up centres to support industry and academic engagement in innovation in:

  • carbon reduction
  • process improvement
  • product development

£50 billion to the UK economy

The foundation industries comprise the following sectors:

  • glass
  • cement
  • paper
  • metal
  • ceramic
  • chemical

They contribute over £50 billion to the UK economy and produce 75% of all the material on the planet.

They are vital to our manufacturing and construction sectors. However, they generate nearly half of all industrial carbon emissions and need to quickly transform to ensure we live in a sustainable way.

Specialist facilities

This requires specialist facilities which enable companies to trial new technologies at scale.

Without such facilities, sectors struggle to demonstrate new technologies at a commercially relevant scale and therefore cannot secure the investment needed to change production processes that will decarbonise their manufacturing processes.

FISC comprises:

  • Centre for Process Innovation
  • Glass Futures Ltd
  • Materials Processing Institute
  • Henry Royce Institute

FISC will run the ECONOMISER programme to supplement their world class research facilities to support 5 themes of:

  • circular economy
  • process optimisation
  • alternative fuels
  • new material development
  • digital controls and sensors

Addressing shared sustainability challenges

Crucially, by working together, these centres will address sustainability challenges shared across the foundation industries.

FISC partners already work in well-established innovation networks, successfully bringing together academia, public sector and commercial companies to deliver positive impact for the foundation industries.

Mike Biddle, Executive Director of Net Zero, Innovate UK said:

The foundation industries are a vital part of UK manufacturing and this is an exciting programme to start the journey to transition to a low carbon future.

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.

Industry will be able to assess the benefit, explore how to work with the technology and then integrate those technologies into their manufacturing site.

Working together

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.

The consortium is leveraging investments in existing centres to extend their current capability.

The centres will work together in the ECONOMISER project to help ensure that the UK has competitive low carbon materials to build homes, develop infrastructure, manufacture vehicles, produce personal care products, deliver digital services, and supply well packaged and protected foodstuffs.

Further information

FISC members include:

  • Henry Royce Institute. A £250 million investment featuring 9 universities focused on world class materials research and accelerating exploitation
  • Centre for Process Innovation (chemical and packaging). A founding member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult focused on process technologies
  • Glass Futures. Delivering a globally unique pilot scale glass melting facility, provides a leading capability to test circular economy principles at scale for the construction, automotive and food and drink sectors
  • Materials Processing Institute (metals). The UK’s national centre for innovation in metals, it operates unique pilot and demonstration facility and focuses on decarbonisation, the circular economy and digital technologies
  • an additional ceramics partner, which will be announced following a competitive process

Top image:  Credit: nd3000, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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