Events | 28-07-2023

Glass Futures opens £54m research centre to help glass industry go greener

An innovative research and technology centre that will help the global glass industry to create greener, cleaner products has officially opened.

Glass Futures’ £54m Global Centre of Excellence in St Helens, Merseyside, will soon be home to a unique experimental furnace and other technology that will pioneer ways of making carbon neutral glass. The first firing of the 30-tonnes-per-day furnace is planned for early 2024.

Glass Futures is a not-for-profit membership research technology organisation with a mission to demonstrate disruptive technologies and generate new ideas that support sustainability. Its Global Centre of Excellence aims to bridge the Technology Readiness Level gap between research and commercial viability towards implementation.

Speaking at the opening event in June 2023 Richard Katz, CEO of Glass Futures said, “I don’t let go in a hurry and a decade after the idea of Glass Futures was first conceived that dream has come to fruition.

“Removing carbon emissions from global manufacturing is our world’s greatest challenge, and we need to change how we do things. The glass industry and the wider foundation industries (ceramics, steel, metal, chemicals, paper and cement) need to decarbonise, to use energy sustainably and move away from natural gas as their main energy source.”

The event, attended by over 100 guests, brought together Glass Futures members from around the world, including glass manufacturers, university academics, funders and local politicians.

UK industrialist and vice chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership Juergen Maier CBE, who was among the first supporters of Glass Futures, said: “We need to create new industries of the future, that’s the only way to ultimately create well paid jobs and prosperity.

“Many years ago, St Helens was innovative in the creation of the float glass process, which today is pretty much the world standard… now we see glass manufacturers like Encirc developing hydrogen-driven glass furnaces.

“These things are really difficult. They need engineering and standardising, and Glass Futures can help them to do that. We’re creating a new glass industry of the future…look around you, you can imagine the prosperity that all of that creates.”

Find out more about Glass Futures via the website.

Image: Attendees at the opening of the Global Centre of Excellence (left to right): Caroline Moore (marketing executive), Aston Fuller (general manager, Glass Futures), Juergen Maier CBE, the Mayor of St Helens Cllr Lynn Clarke, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, Richard Katz (CEO, Glass Futures), Alanna Halsall (communications, digital and marketing manager at Glass Futures), Mike Biddle (Innovate UK), Dr Nick Kirk (Glass Technology Services) and Brian McMillan (director, Glass Futures).

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