Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

WMG News

Select tags to filter on

UK plastic recycling company receives £4.42m Government funding from Innovate UK for ground-breaking advanced recycling plant in the North East England

Advanced recycling company ReNew ELP, based in Teesside, has been awarded a £4.42 million grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to build the world’s first commercial-scale plastic recycling plant using Cat-HTR™ technology. Focussing on the UK Government’s priority to drive economic growth through new technology, the award comes through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging programme. It recognises the commercial-scale feasibility of the technology and potential of the advanced recycling sector to help meet ambitious plastic recycling targets. The grant will aid ReNew ELP in the construction of the initial plant, which commences build in Q1 2021 and will see c. 80,000 tonnes of waste plastic recycled annually upon completion.

The technology, Cat-HTR™ (Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor), uses supercritical water, heat and pressure to convert waste plastic considered ‘unrecyclable’ through traditional mechanical means back into the valuable chemicals and oils from which it was made, for use in the petrochemical industry in the production of new plastic and other materials. This helps to create a circular economy for waste plastic.

Rebecca Pow MP, Under-Secretary of State for Defra says: “The Government is committed to both clamping down on the unacceptable plastic waste that harms our environment and ensuring more materials can be reused instead of being thrown away. By investing in these truly ground-breaking technologies we will help to drive these efforts even further, and I look forward to seeing them develop and deliver real results.”

A key benefit of the Cat-HTR™ technology is its ability to recycle multi-layer, flexible plastic materials such as films, and pots, tubs and trays (PTT), considered unrecyclable through traditional mechanical recycling, and are instead sent to landfill or incineration. Vitally, new materials made from ReNew ELP’s advanced recycling feedstock are suitable for use in food-contact packaging material, a problem area for mechanical recycling systems whose products do not meet European Food Standard Agency requirements.

In line with the Government’s policy of ‘Producer Pays’, Cat-HTR™ offers a solution to producers, retailers and brand owners levied with the expected Plastic Packaging Tax, which enforces a 30% recycled content requirement for all plastic packaging in both the UK and pre-filled from overseas from 2022, alongside

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which challenges those in the plastic value chain to pay the full net cost of waste material collection and recycling. Advanced recycling company ReNew ELP offers a beneficial technology to help increase the recycled content of packaging and provide a recycling solution for plastic packaging materials such as flexible films, pots, tubs and trays.

Alongside diverting plastic away from polluting the environment, the Cat-HTR™ technology represents significant overall environmental benefit. Initial independent studies have already shown that advanced recycling can reduce CO2 emissions by 1.5 tonnes for every tonne of plastic waste processed when compared to incineration. This means that the completed ReNew ELP site at Wilton will save approximately 120,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, when compared to incineration. Environmental benefits include:

 

· Reducing plastic pollution of the natural environment

· 1.5 tonnes CO2 emissions saving per tonne of plastic processed via advanced recycling when compared to incineration

· An increased scope of recyclable plastics, including those classed as ‘unrecyclable’

· As Cat-HTR™ is not a combustion process, it does not produce toxic by-products such as dioxins

· A reduction on fossil sourced feedstock for the manufacture of new plastics

· High yields - up to 85% of the mass of plastic is converted to hydrocarbon products

· Minimal waste is produced- impurities (colourants, additives, fillers etc.) in the plastic feedstock fall out into the heavier hydrocarbon feedstocks, which can be used in construction

WMG at the University of Warwick partner on the project, conducting detailed Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to quantify the benefits of advanced recycling across multiple environmental indicators.

Stuart ColesDr Stuart Coles, Associate Professor of Sustainable Materials who is leading the project in WMG at the University of Warwick says, “WMG will also be investigating what materials can be manufactured from the

Cat-HTR™ output streams. We will be able to link previously difficult to dispose of plastic materials to added-value products and demonstrate their potential through our characterisation and testing facilities.”

The technology demonstrates a complementary solution to sit alongside traditional mechanical recycling to create a circular economy. It also offers those in the plastic supply chain an alternative means for disposing of their flexible and multi-layer plastic packaging, which no longer needs to be incinerated or sent to landfill but can instead be recycled. This new process goes hand in hand with efforts to reduce single-use plastic and helps to create a plastic-neutral society.

ReNew ELP Managing Director Richard Daley says: “This Grant demonstrates we are in line with Government Policy and its drive towards achieving increased recycling targets in the UK. It will increase investor confidence, help innovative technologies such as ours break through and establish the Advanced Recycling Industry in the UK, helping ReNew ELP to emerge as a global leader in plastic recycling.”


WMG Professor takes on new role as Deputy PVC (Research) for Knowledge Exchange and Partnerships

Professor Kerry Kirwan has been appointed as the new Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) for Knowledge Exchange and Partnerships, for the University of Warwick.

Knowledge exchange, industry partnerships and innovation are key components of much of the University’s research, with Professor Kirwan appointed to support this growing area.

Kerry, a Professor at WMG is also a Director of the £11m EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing (EngD), Strategic Director of the £10m Industrial Doctorate Centre and Head of WMG’s Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing Research Group. He also sits on the University’s Research Executive Group.

Professor Kirwan is actively involved in the newly emerging Knowledge Exchange Framework programme, Monash-Warwick Alliance, Warwick in Europe, the Global Challenges Research Fund, Midlands Innovation, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and the Innovative Manufacturing and Future Materials GRP.

Professor Kerry KirwanSpeaking about his new appointment, Professor Kirwan said: “I am delighted to take up this position and very much look forward to continuing to work with the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research to ensure we continue to grow our knowledge exchange, innovation and business and industry partnerships, and ultimately advance the outstanding research achievements of the University.”

Professor Pam Thomas, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research), commented: “Professor Kirwan will play a critical role and his skills and experience will be instrumental in furthering the development of Warwick as a leading research-intensive University with strong industry partnerships – locally, nationally and globally.”


Construction greener and more efficient with intelligent software

Construction vehicles could become more efficient and environmentally-friendly, thanks to new technology developed by WMG at the University of Warwick.

Through a new Innovate UK research programme, WMG in collaboration with partners JCB and Pektron PLC are working to optimise the fuel economy of the next generation of off-highway vehicles.

Dr James MarcoDr James Marco from WMG is leading the University’s contribution to the project that aims to introduce new intelligent power systems for improved engine operation.

This could lead to significant fuel savings and fewer carbon emissions for the industry.

Dr Marco’s team is analysing JCB’s current fleet to better understand the opportunities for emissions reduction and intelligent control.

Today’s construction industry is more environmentally-conscious than ever, and the amount of CO2 emissions released by vehicles is a significant factor in deciding which ones to use during an assignment.


WMG Professor heads to key automotive summit

Prof Kerry KirwanProfessor Kerry Kirwan, Head of Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing, will be representing WMG at SMMT’s International Automotive Summit on Wednesday (29 June).

The Summit takes place at IET London and is one of the key events in the automotive calendar. Professor Kirwan will sit alongside experts from Jaguar Land Rover and TRW Aftermarket UK on the Automotive and the Circular Economy Panel.

More information and the full agenda can be found here.


WMG plays key role in £20 million announcement backing British Automotive battery manufacturing

EICWMG at the University of Warwick are delighted to be part of a £19.4m project to support the development of next-generation electric vehicle batteries in the UK, funded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC UK Ltd).

The funding will support leading edge manufacturing research focussed around Nissan's Sunderland battery manufacturing plant - the largest full scale automotive Li-ion battery manufacturing facility in Europe. WMG researchers will play a key role in helping Nissan take forward this opportunity and will receive £1m for the research.

The consortium led by Nissan with WMG at the University of Warwick, Hyperdrive, Newcastle University, and Zero Carbon Futures (ZCF), will bring together engineers, researchers, new technology and existing facilities, assets and knowledge to create and prove new and improved manufacturing processes for the next generation of automotive batteries.

WMG has particular skills around battery chemistry and the manufacturing processes used to scale this up to high volume production. WMG role in the project will be to investigate potential improvements to battery chemistry and increasing manufacturing yield, and to optimise automated manufacturing processes to enable Nissan to remain at the forefront of electric vehicle technology.


Lean, Mean and Green

kerryjirwanworldsfirstDr Kerry Kirwan is proud to be representing WMG at a special seminar for The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) Coventry and Warwickshire Materials Society on Monday 3 November.

Dr Kirwan’s ‘Dispelling The Myth That Sustainable Materials Are Inferior…’ will use Warwick’s WorldF3rst racing project to show what can be achieved with sustainable, natural and recycled materials.

 

 


Expert Comment: Dr Stuart Coles

Dr Stuart ColesDr Stuart Coles is an Assistant Professor in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing His main research interests are based around sustainability and the substitution of natural materials into industrial products.

Commenting on the Automobile Association (AA) joining green groups in warning that changes in energy policy will harm the climate he said:

“Incentives are needed on low-emission vehicles to keep them attractive to consumers whilst technology catches up and battery-powered cars are able to compete in terms of function with conventional vehicles."

“In his Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the nil vehicle excise duty (VED) band for clean petrol cars would be restricted in future to electric vehicles. This removes a tax break for clean petrol cars and hybrids, which will from 2017, attract the same VED as gas guzzlers."

“The Government’s policy on VED is damaging to the environment as effective low carbon options, such as plug-in hybrids, will now fall into the same tax band as many other higher emission vehicles. Whilst clean electric vehicles are available, they are not currently able to travel much farther than 100-120 miles (the maximum for the Nissan Leaf is 124 miles with perfect conditions) and are therefore not a viable option on many journeys.”


Call for Papers - WMG Doctoral Research and Innovation Conference

flyerThe 2nd annual WMG Doctoral Research and Innovation Conference, entitled ‘Innovation through Collaboration’, is an excellent opportunity to showcase research from both academia and industry across themes in design, materials, manufacturing, systems and business transformation.

Organised by doctoral students, the conference will be held in the International Digital Laboratory on 30th June - 1st July, with an evening social event on the 30th.

Papers and poster presentations will take place across a wide variety of topics and awards will be presented in each theme.

Abstracts should be submitted online by 31st March.


EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Officially Launched

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing was officially launched yesterday (17 December) at a reception, hosted by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, at the House of Lords.

An exciting collaboration between the Universities of Warwick, Exeter and Cranfield, the new Centre will offer an International Engineering Doctorate (EngD (Int)) in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing, awarded jointly by the three institutions. It is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and industry partners.

Invited guests from both industry and the education sector heard how the Centre will address industry-driven research challenges around sustainability; including establishing natural or recovered materials as feed-stocks, reducing process inputs and outputs without compromising performance or economic viability, extracting high value materials from waste streams, and ultimately establishing economic and environmental sustainability.


New EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing

Kerry KirwanIt was announced today, Friday 28th March 2014, that WMG is to lead a new “EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing”. The Centre will be a partnership between universities of Warwick, Exeter and Cranfield.

Dr Kerry Kirwan, Director of the new EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing, said:

The new Centre will produce the next generation of manufacturing business leaders with a high level understanding of interdisciplinary enterprise, the research experience essential to compete in a global low carbon environment, and an international view of Sustainability and the Circular Economy."

This is the fifth such Doctoral Training Centre (CDTs) to be awarded to University of Warwick leadership by the UK’s research councils. The expected total investment by the research councils for all five CDTS led by Warwick will be around £19 million.


Older news