Funding to boost sustainable processes in manufacturing

The government has awarded more than £7m of funding to help commercialise technologies that will make process manufacturing more sustainable.

The money will go to 17 research and development projects conducted by UK companies and universities, including methods of cutting energy use in baking, making paint without harmful solvents and using microwaves to produce low-carbon concrete.

Seventeen UK companies, universities and research organisations will share the funds awarded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the EPSRC, the value of which will be matched by the participating companies.

In a statement, TSB chief executive Iain Gray said: ‘Innovation in sustainability is vital for the continued success and growth of the UK process industry and this research and development will lead to innovations in manufacturing that will improve economic performance, benefit the environment and have a positive social impact.

EPSRC chief executive Prof David Delpy added: ‘Supporting sustainable processes in manufacturing is how we can grow, both in our knowledge and economically.

‘These projects and businesses developing sustainable processes will, in turn, deliver new opportunities for further research as well as the financial and environmental returns.’

The research and development projects include:

  • An innovative low-energy baking system developed by C-Tech Innovation including a novel post-baking cooling step that could cut baking time and reduce the overall energy consumption of the sector by 20 per cent
  • A collaboration led by Imperial Chemical Industries to develop several novel approaches to reducing, and preferably eliminating, solvents in paints
  • The development of a novel process for electropolishing aerospace castings using ionic liquids rather than the strong, toxic, inorganic acids currently used, in a project involving Rolls-Royce, Scionix and Leicester University
  • A collaboration led by Industrial Microwave Systems to develop a conveyor-based, solid-state microwave-based system for producing low-carbon concretes made with higher levels of waste products and less energy