Scottish company is developing an AD-powered timber-kit factory
The first of its kind in the UK, NorFrame’s factory will manufacture timber kit frames for homes, schools and commercial buildings using power generated from an on-site anaerobic digestion (AD) plant fuelled by silage from a neighbouring farm – eliminating the need for fossil fuels to heat or power facility and its processes.
Spanning 31,000 sq ft with a completion date of spring 2023, the £4m (€4.5m) factory will initially create 11 new jobs and safeguard a further 14 in a rural area, produce 20 timber kits per week, and have the capability to meet demand from Scotland’s private and public sectors.
Gregor Davidson of NorFrame said: “Our goal was to solve a carbon footprint problem that would provide 100% assurance that a timber manufacturing process can be clean, green, and cost effective.
“The idea of combining the neighbouring Anaerobic Digestion plant and our own homegrown plant silage from a farm four miles away, with a two-zone heat capturing design came after months of testing and reworking our plans. It was a eureka moment. It means that we take plant silage, ferment it for 6 months and then feed it into the anaerobic digestion Plant which will power the factory. During that process, heat is created. Our idea is to capture that heat - which would have otherwise gone to waste – and redirect it to heat the entire factory and office space. And any waste from the digestion process, is then used as fertiliser for next year’s crop. It is a fully organic, closed fuel cycle and we know it will make a significant contribution to Scotland’s net zero ambitions.”
The neighbouring AD has been operational since 2014 and relies on feed in tariff (FiT) for viability. Its current FiT agreement ends in 13 years’ time which meant it needed a lifeline to avoid being rendered redundant. NorFrame’s factory will use up to 60% of the plant’s renewable electricity, assuring the plant’s future.
In June 2022, the Scottish Government announced new measures to slash carbon emissions of all new-build homes by a third (32%). The new energy standards also apply to newly built non-domestic buildings and form plans to reduce emissions across Scotland’s building stock by more than two thirds by 2030.
Scottish Enterprise is providing NorFrame with £750,000 (€857k) of financial support from the Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund. This is the first grant awarded through the fund.