The Materials Processing Institute in South Bank, Middlesbrough has invested £3.1m into key equipment and facilities.

The move is part of a groundbreaking programme to support scaling-up sustainable technologies and decarbonisation for industries which contribute £50 billion annually to the UK economy.

EconoMISER, a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded programme, is the first project delivered by the Foundation Industry Sustainability Consortium (FISC) which includes MPI, Henry Royce Institute, Glass Futures, the Centre for Process Innovation and Lucideon.

These centres are all working together across five core areas - alternative fuels, recycling and reuse, digital control and sensors, process optimisation and sustainable materials development to accelerate the foundation industries' journey towards net zero.

Gerard Stephens, MPI's Head of Research and Technology, said: "Our facilities are uniquely equipped to support the foundation industries in integrating new, greener technologies into their operations. This investment enables the Institute to lead this critical research and it also strengthens the UK’s position in pioneering and commercialising industrial sustainability.

“All foundation industries stakeholders and partners can access and benefit from the advancements made possible by these significant investments that will foster growth and innovation through improved resource efficiency, the scaling up of sustainable products, decarbonisation of industrial processes and integration of Industry 4.0 solutions.”

The £3.1m investment included:

  • New equipment for the Institute’s Advanced Materials Development Centre to support mechanical testing, vacuum brazing and forging.
  • Hydrogen facilities to explore new routes to decarbonisation.
  • Equipment to help get valuable materials back into use through waste segregation, identifying opportunities for re-use and minimising associated costs.
  • Scaled-up hydrometallurgy laboratory capabilities.
  • Dedicated scale-up zones for client pilot scale development and pre-production scale testing, together with research and development and process analysis.

As a direct result of this investment, projects undertaken have included technology development in the production of metals, developing new materials and re-using steel industry slag in cement production, and researching materials to create alternative refractory linings.

The second phase, EconoMISER 2, got underway in April and runs until March 2025. This sees an additional £4.2m released to the Institute to support additional investment in equipment to support research including Artificial Intelligence capabilities.