Funding awarded for recovery solutions for foundation industries

A portrait of an industrial man and woman engineer with tablet in a factory, working.

UKRI has provided around £12.7 million in funding to develop innovations to support fast recovery and sustainability in UK foundation industries after COVID-19.

£4.7 million in funding has been awarded to a new Transforming Foundation Industries Research and Innovation hub (TransFIRE). It will be led by Professor Mark Jolly, Cranfield University along with 12 partner universities.

The hub will be a new cross-sector and multi-disciplinary research centre to enable the foundation industries to work together to address their common challenges of competitiveness and sustainability. It will also enable them to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies and business models.

Addressing innovation

Bruce Adderley, challenge director of UKRI’s Transforming Foundation Industries challenge, said:

The research hub represents a crucial step forward in addressing innovation in these industries, by introducing a more collaborative environment to share knowledge and experiences.

There are so many opportunities, challenges and processes that cross over between the different foundation industries, so having a central resource to pool ideas and solutions can help remove some of the inefficiencies and hurdles to innovation that exist in different parts of the sector.

Building a resilient recovery

A further £8 million of the funding is being awarded across 19 successful projects through the ‘Building a resilient recovery’ competition, which forms part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Transforming Foundation Industries challenge.

In this competition, applicants were asked to focus on resource and energy efficiency in order to help make the industries more environmentally sustainable, while maintaining their global competitiveness.

The winning projects are based from across the UK, and include:

  • Cloud Cycle’s data-led solution for optimising concrete delivery and usage, while minimising waste
  • the SCI-FI project for condition monitoring across the industries that creates more effective maintenance strategies
  • the BACpack study into re-using low-carbon scrap for aluminium sheet manufacture.

The funding will also cover areas such as:

  • re-purposing textile waste
  • new clay production techniques
  • concrete manufacturing
  • bio-based roofing resin
  • high temperature heat pumps.

The competition closed to entrants in late 2020 and successful projects then underwent a series of checks and feasibility assessments to confirm the viability of their innovations, and their potential application across the specified markets and sectors.

Reducing and re-using waste materials

Adderley added:

For the foundation industries there are huge benefits to be gained by looking at reducing and re-using waste materials that arise from the creation, processing and use of the products manufactured by these sectors, so it is inspiring to see so many innovations that tackle this challenge head on.

The focus these projects bring on greener alternatives, lower emissions, and energy saving, will have an impact across the economy, support the move towards net zero in the UK, and we look forward to helping them bring their innovations to fruition.

Further information

Full list of ‘Building a resilient recovery’ competition winners

Continuous production process for 3D printed ceramic foundry filters, suiting all applications (west midlands)

A novel process and formulation of high quality, reproduceable ceramic filters for the metal casting sector.

Novel EAF composite feedstock (north-east)

Developing new composite feedstock for electric arc furnaces, used to create clean, high quality steel.

Recovering cotton fibre from UK post-consumer, mixed composition textile waste for use in paper manufacturing (north-west)

Study on alternative fibres for the paper-making process, sourced from post-consumer textile waste.

The world’s first ceramic glazed tiles – made from 100% recycled materials (north-west/south-west)

Developing glazes for fast-fire manufacturing of ceramic tiles made entirely from recycled waste.

Co-production of Lithium and China Clay in Cornwall – CLiCCC (south-west/London)

A new approach to cutting-edge lithium extraction from existing china clay manufacture to create new resources of this vital low-carbon metal

Foundation industry wastes for cement encapsulants (west midlands/north-west)

More effective encapsulation of hazardous wastes in new geopolymer cement to offer a product with a low CO2 footprint.

Low-carbon concrete manufacturing process (Scotland)

A cost-efficient, low-carbon concrete manufacturing solution using waste materials.

BACpack (south-east)

A study on the potential to re-use low-carbon scrap for the manufacture of aluminium sheet for packaging and other large-scale applications.

Glass cUllet conversIon To wAteRglass and used, with cement bypass flue dust, for cementless concrete building products (GUITAR) (Northern Ireland/north-west)

Demonstration of a new manufacturing process for producing cementless concrete products, making use of waste materials.

Graphene-enhanced concrete for a resilient recovery (south-west/north-west)

Development of a graphene additive to enhance the strength of concrete and reduce the need for steel reinforcements and lower the industry carbon footprint.

Cloud cycle & HS2: transforming cement & its supply chain with IoT, machine learning & big data (London/west midlands)

Data-led solution for reducing concrete waste across the building site and enhance oversight of delivery, emissions and usage.

Study of the feasibility of producing artificial pozzolana at existing cement facility for use as an alternative raw material in Portland cement (Northern Ireland)

Using abundant clay deposits to create materials that can replace the use of the limited supplies of fuel ash and furnace slag that are in the UK for concrete production.

Bio-based solvent identification and evaluation for use in polyurethane resin binders for the roofing industry (north-west/Yorkshire and Humber/south-east)

Looking into innovative bio-based solvents for the roofing industry to replace the existing petroleum-based solutions used in the UK.

A novel biocatalyst platform for biobased-synthesis of 1,3-propanediol (London)

Development of new synthetic biology technology for the biofuels industry that converts waste glycerine into valuable propanediol for re-use in other products.

SCalable, intelligent condition monitoring for Foundation Industries (SCI-FI) (south-east/east/west midlands/Wales)

Adaptation of a cost-effective approach to automated conditional monitoring of machinery in the automotive sector for use in the steel and papermaking industries.

Hot Gas Raman Identification and measurement For Foundation Industries (GRIFFIN) (south-east/Yorkshire and Humber/west midlands/east midlands)

Utilising analytical raman gas measurement instruments across foundation industries to better monitor emissions, energy consumption and process control.

Breakthrough high temperature heat pump technology for foundation industry decarbonisation (London/south-east)

Development of the world’s first sub-1MW high-temperature heat pump that can compete commercially with burning fossil fuels.

EcoLowNOx: auxiliary combustion system for efficient combustion with low NOx emissions for foundation industries (Scotland/Wales/Yorkshire and Humber)

Assessing how global combustion system technology, which has shown to reduce NOx by more than 80%, can be used across a range of glass and steel furnaces.

A digital platform for industrial heat recovery in terms of supply chain management (west midlands/Yorkshire and Humber)

Development of a digital supply chain platform to improve industrial heat recovery and utilisation for foundation industries.

About the Transforming Foundation Industries challenge

The Transforming Foundation Industries programme, through the ISCF, 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.

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