Ground-Breaking Ceremony Held for New Glass Futures Centre of Excellence

The £45 million centre will deliver industry and government-backed research and development projects focused on decarbonising glass production.

Representatives from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and local leaders gathered on 4 February 2022 for the ground-breaking ceremony of the new Glass Futures Centre of Excellence in St Helens, which aims to make glass the low carbon material of choice for the future.

The Centre will be occupied and managed by Glass Futures, a not-for-profit research and technology organisation connecting the glass industry and academia. The Centre will foster research and development, innovation, training, and up-skilling and bridge the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) gap between research activity and full commercial implementation.

One of the flagship components of the new centre will be a demonstration-scale glass making facility capable of melting 30 tonnes of glass per day in a safe experimental space. This will provide a platform for the industry to test and run trials for implementation at commercial scale on a state-of-the-art line, both collaboratively and individually. The glass output can also be processed by an IS machine and cold end container process coating, inspections and packing line.

The project is funded through a mix of public and private investment. Glass Futures Ltd has secured a £15 million UKRI grant to support the installation of the facility, and further public funds will be supplied through a £10 million grant from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s ‘Build Back Better’ fund. Private sector investment and glass sector companies are also contributing a further £20 million in resource, time and equipment to support the project, which should be completed and ready for fit-out in January 2023.

Glass Futures’ Chief Executive, Richard Katz, said:

“With the ground-breaking ceremony, Glass Futures has reached a real milestone in the delivery of its Global Centre of Excellence for glass in research and development, innovation and training.

“The Glass Futures’ hot glass experimental facility is a substantial stepping stone to cutting emissions, designed to work both collaboratively or privately with industry to identify and deliver sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.”