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UK-based research centre orders equipment worth £2.5m

A new research centre is being developed in Grangetown, Middlesbrough in the UK and orders in excess of £2.5 million (€2.8 million) have been placed for the hi-tech industrial equipment.

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and Tata Steel have begun work to establish the national research facility after signing a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2010.

The facility will advance high-temperature technologies and cost a total of £5 million to establish. The technologists there will pioneer new ways of turning waste products into fuels and raw materials which are crucial for industries such as energy generation, in addition to construction, steel and waste management.

Orders have been placed for the pilot scale industrial plant – a gasifier and a pyrolysis unit. The equipment will be housed in an open access facility available to companies wanting to test or develop high-temperature processes and will enable testing and demonstration of technologies developed in the laboratory to prove they can work on a commercial scale.

Facilities are also available to test the effectiveness of a wide range of materials in gasification and pyrolysis processes.

The high-temperature pilot facility being built at Tata Steel's Teesside Technology Centre is due to open in Q2 and is expected to employ at least 30 people by 2020.
CPI director of strategy Graham Hillier says: 'This innovative collaboration between CPI and Tata Steel will provide world-leading expertise, equipment and capabilities to enable the development and commercialisation of thermal processing technology. The new centre will play a leading role in developing technologies to support the low-carbon economy of the future.

'It will help a range of industries to reduce the amount of energy and raw materials they consume, while at the same time increasing recycling rates for these businesses. This unique centre will be open to companies of all sizes on an "open access" basis and will strengthen the UK's international competitiveness in the development of new processes for the energy, construction, materials, metals, waste management, reclamation and process industries.'

The project is receiving £2.5 million from One North East through the Tees Valley Industrial Programme. Tata Steel and the CPI are investing the remaining £2.5 million.

The gasifier is a 2m wide furnace that can handle a wide range of feedstocks such as unusable oils and organic wastes and convert them into the valuable and low-carbon fuels of the future. The pyrolysis unit will convert waste materials and biomass in to liquid and gaseous fuels.

As well as creating the new facilities the collaboration will also allow Tata Steel's skill base in process analysis, development and improvement to be accessed by other companies.