A multi-award winning university spin-out technology company has chosen Teesside’s Wilton Centre as its production development base, with an initial £6m investment, creating four new full-time jobs.
Green Lizard Technologies, a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast, has acquired pilot plant, office and laboratory space at the Wilton Centre to test manufacture Epoxy Propanol (EP), also known as Glycidol, which can be used to create greener, cleaner and safer surfactants (for use in detergents and soaps), industrial paints and coatings, and speciality chemicals.
The Wilton Centre will house Europe’s first production plant for EP. At present, it is primarily manufactured in Japan, with a small amount produced in the US.
Should the pilot production plant prove successful, Green Lizard and its development partners will invest some $25m (£17m) in a full-scale production plant at Wilton, employing more than 30 people. This could open as early as 2021.
Green Lizard has developed patented, safe and sustainable technology which coverts Glycerol, a waste product from the manufacture of bio-diesel, a renewable fuel made using natural vegetable oils and fats, into EP. Glycerol is used in food production, but increasing production of bio-diesel to meet international targets has led to a glut.
Green Lizard has partnered with Malaysian company FGV, the world’s largest Crude Palm Oil producer, and with US-based Dixie Chemical to develop industrial scale manufacturing of EP from Glycerol, winning prestigious international awards in the process.
Last year the partnership won the Sustainability Award in the IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers) Malaysia Awards and was highly commended in the Global IChemE Awards in the Oil and Gas section, and in January 2018 it won the Rushlight Sustainable Manufacturing and Services Award at the international awards designed to promote innovation, initiatives and the holistic environmental benefit of new technologies.
Green Lizard chose the Wilton Centre for its pilot plant and development centre for a combination of on-site facilities and partner organisations, and Teesside’s readily available skilled workforce.
Professor Martin Atkins, Green Lizard CEO and chair of Chemical Innovation and Sustainability at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The Wilton Centre was recommended to us by the Knowledge Transfer Network and it is fantastic. In fact, there is no better place in the UK. The facilities are already here to run a test production plant 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with experienced workers.
“There is room for us to expand on site, and to a potential full production plant on the Wilton International site next door, and there are many like-minded people and companies based on-site or just down the road, with whom we are already working very closely to develop new, safer, greener coatings, surfactants and fuels.
“We are also in talks with a number of international companies, including a consortium from China, which are very interested in using our technology in their manufacturing processes. At present, we are just scratching the surface of the possibilities for our new technologies.”
Wilton’s site director Steve Duffield added: “Green Lizard is the fourth university technology company which has chosen to base its production development work at the Wilton Centre, and the third from outside the North East of England.
“We have all the infrastructure, facilities and supporting expertise in place to allow them to focus on their task of scaling their production processes, rather than dealing with a mountain of red tape before they can even get going.”
Green Lizard taking space at the 75 acre science and business park follows hard on the heels of Loughborough University spin-out company Micropore committing to the Wilton Centre for a further 10 years, and US technology company Calysta expanding its facilities.
Wilton Centre is a leading, privately-owned science and business park located in the heart of Teesside just five minutes’ drive from Middlesbrough. It provides a wide range of top quality office, laboratory and pilot plant accommodation at competitive rental terms with immediate occupancy.