The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and Tata Steel have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a new national High Temperature Innovation Centre (HTIC) at Tata Steel’s Teesside Technology Centre (TTC).
Under the MoU CPI will create an open access innovation and research facility centred on two new pilot plants which are to be installed on the TTC site. The new plants will extend the existing capabilities of the site to carry out research and development work in the fields of novel sources of fuel and energy, the recovery of raw materials and reductions in the amounts of organic wastes produced. The equipment to be installed comprises a 350Kg pyrolysis oven and 2-metre diameter fully flexible gassifier.
This £5m project has received £2.5m investment from One North East through the Tees Valley Industrial Programme, which is helping to accelerate industrial transition in the area and help the region to seize new and emerging opportunities in low carbon and advanced manufacturing. It will enhance the skills base of the existing innovation centres in the region, creating a technology cluster of global significance.
This project builds on CPI’s role as a technology innovation centre for the process industries by adding specialist high temperature facilities to its existing assets and services that serve the industrial biotechnology, sustainable processes and printable electronics industries.
The signing of the MoU reflects the strong commitment Tata Steel has both to the Teesside region, where it continues to employ more than 2,500 people, and to R&D in Europe. It also recognises the positions of TTC and CPI as internationally renowned experts in their fields, both organisations having particular capability in scaling up research ideas into industrial applications.
The Department for Business, UK Trade & Investment and One North East have been working closely with the two partners for several months on the HTIC Project. A team from CPI and Tata Steel RD&T has collaborated on the detail of the proposal as well as on the supporting business model, which One North East approved last month.
Business Minister Mark Prisk said: “This project is a good example of a traditional manufacturing industry working with innovative partners to develop new greener products and processes. The Department for Business and UK Trade & Investment have actively supported this project as part of our commitment to promote private sector led growth by investing in a low carbon economy.”
What is particularly significant about his investment is that the equipment installed will operate on a scale midway between theoretical, laboratory research and real industrial production, and will enable a range of new technologies to be economically developed and proven on a meaningful scale.
These facilities will be supported with access to Tata Steel’s existing high temperature process knowledge and experience, which will in turn be integrated with CPI’s knowledge of the process industries, to provide a one-stop shop for high temperature technology and process development.
CPI Director of Strategy, Dr Graham Hillier, said: “The creation of the HTIC will provide the UK with an asset that is suitable for use by a range of companies using and developing high temperature technologies. We are particularly keen on transferring knowledge between industries and on supporting the scale-up of novel technologies. By giving organisations access to the infrastructure and skills of CPI and Tata Steel TTC, we will be enabling the UK to increase its capability to transform research ideas into valuable commercial processes.”
Tata Steel RD&T Director Processes, Mr Mark Sexton, said: “It is a natural partnership for Tata RD&T to work with CPI to create a national high temperature process centre, given the proven track record both have in successfully developing and implementing new technologies. Our aim is to work with other industries and companies in the field of high temperature process technology, increasing the pace of knowledge and capability development, and thereby bringing additional benefit to our own activities.”
Ian Williams, Director of Business and Industry at One North East, said: “This major new facility will be the largest of its kind in the UK and will further strengthen the global position of the North East process sector. “The High Temperature Innovation Centre will provide innovation and technology support to companies already established in the Tees Valley and new businesses to help the development of their processes, and will be a real asset for the region in attracting international companies who are deciding where to invest.”