Flourishing partnership to establish new environmentally focused, industrial Innovation Centres

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Teesside University and TWI have again joined forces with the launch of two new Innovation Centres which will help companies to reduce the impact their operations have on the environment.

The Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Innovation Centre will focus on the development of cost effective, low-carbon technologies to support industry’s drive for clean energy growth. The Circular Economy and Recycling Innovation Centre will address the advancement of new disruptive technologies designed to help reduce industry’s reliance on finite resources and eliminate waste.

The partners have already successfully worked together for a number of years, having established the Healthcare Innovation Centre in early 2017 which utilises complementary strengths to deliver excellence in new healthcare technologies.

The Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Innovation Centre will look at solutions to harness hydrogen, seen as the fuel of the future but cost prohibitive, for wider use. It will seek to identify novel technology concepts which can be applied to energy intensive industries associated with manufacturing, refining and other carbon dioxide emitting processes, all of which contribute to global warming. Although hydrogen, produced from water or natural gas, is in bountiful supply, its wider use is currently limited due to high associated costs.

Research and development activity with the Circular Economy and Recycling Innovation Centre will examine areas such as recycling, re-use and re-manufacturing, with the aim of conceiving break-through systems and/or processes which will inform the closed-loop approach of the circular economy.

Similarly, by concentrating on new techniques that have less environmental impact, the two Centre’s will also help operators of plant, machinery and equipment extend the life-span of their assets through new opportunities for recovery, repair and repurposing.

Experts in environmental best practice from Teesside University and TWI will collaborate within the Innovation Centre framework to leverage new technologies and industrial solutions through competitively awarded grant funding, resulting in the delivery of collaborative projects which bring together UK companies and European SMEs in consortiums with complementary experience.

Tat-Hean Gan, TWI director of innovation and skills, explained: “These two latest Innovation Centres, both of which are about helping companies and organisations to reduce the impact their operations have on the environment, will strengthen and extend TWI’s relationship with Teesside University.

“The new Centres are a further base on which to combine our shared knowledge and experience, and we will focus on drawing out new ideas that match industry needs and turning them into viable projects at Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-6.”

The new Innovation Centres will build on more than 20 years of research in environmental and sustainable engineering technologies at Teesside University and TWI, including industrial symbiosis, waste minimisation, recycling and reuse, land and watercourse remediation, energy management, green and bio processing technologies, resource efficient manufacturing systems and the enabling materials technologies for future transportation.

Professor Simon Hodgson, pro vice-chancellor for research and innovation at Teesside University, said: “Teesside University is committed to the delivery of research that addresses the challenges faced by society and provides practical solutions.

“This partnership will accelerate our work to address the climate emergency, working in tandem with industry to identify and deliver innovative approaches across the circular economy.”

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen added: “This is a really important partnership for Teesside and it will underpin our ambition for Net Zero Teesside, which will see us become the centre for UK clean growth with the world’s first full-scale Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage facility, creating thousands of good quality local jobs.

“Once up and running Net Zero Teesside will capture 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – the equivalent to the energy used to power 2 million homes each year.

“This is also another vote of confidence from TWI in our region and our vision for the future. I want to see clean, good quality, well paid, jobs created in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool for local people, and Net Zero Teesside is central to my plan for achieving this. This world-class facility will act as a beacon for new technologies and further investment as other companies are attracted to our area.”