Bangor University is contributing its considerable expertise in renewable technology to assist three key UK industry sectors to decarbonise, replacing non-renewables used in manufacturing processes, with renewable alternatives diverted from waste streams.
In a £7.3 million Innovate UK research grant, called BONDIFI, the University’s BioComposites Centre is leading on the testing required to reduce the carbon footprint of some of the UK’s major and most carbon-heavy industrial sectors, growing a ‘green’ chemistry industry in the process.
The BioComposites Centre are to test the newly developed plant-derived resins at scale. The new resin will replace oil-derived resins, heavily used in making furniture, construction panels and in metal casting. Products containing or which use resin in the manufacturing process have a large carbon footprint, these resins have energy intensive manufacturing requirements as well as being oil-derived.
The group will develop a pilot scale plant using bio-derived renewable resins. The two-year project has the capacity to launch the UK’s first circular economy for the construction and metal products. Interestingly, the resins are also using waste materials from the brewing and paper industries.
Dr Graham Ormondroyd of the University’s BioComposites Centre explained,
“We have already shown how plant derived resins can replace resins made from oil. This project enables us to scale up from a lab-scale demonstration of the use of bio-resin, to using of 100 tons of bioresin a year in a pilot-scale industrial foundry or plant.
Working to reduce the carbon footprint of some of the UK’s most heavy industries and assisting the growth of the UK’s circular economy is our aim and we have a track-record of finding and testing replacement technologies for non-renewable compounds.”
Research partner Cambond has invented a plant-based resin system using by-products from the world’s oldest industry - brewing. This will provide the basis for the alternative resin(s) being tested.
The location of the pilot plant has yet to be decided, however it will be testing the manufacture resin at a scale that will allow industry scale trials to take place. If the processes withstand rigorous testing, it is anticipated that industry will be able to adopt the new resins.
Also partnering in the project are Lunts Castings Ltd, one of Britain’s oldest specialist foundries, and Sheffield Hallam University. One of the main uses of resin in the foundry industry is in fixing sand to create the casings for metal casting. Once these casts are used once, they are broken up, and the resins either sent to landfill- used in road construction, or the resin is burnt off, to regain the sand.
Resins are also an essential component in the boards used in construction. Replacing these resins will improve the construction industry’s CO2 footprint. Solomon and Wu, a company producing mouldings for interior design are involved in the project due to their interest in creating formaldehyde free non-synthetically bonded products.
WI International produce high quality furniture and again are looking for a biobased alternative to the synthetic resins that they use within their company.
Each partner alone cannot deliver the change needed to decarbonise and transform UK industries. BONDIFI will catalyse change and open the way to massive carbon reductions in manufacturing
The Bondifi project builds on the continuing work that Bangor University’s BioComposites Centre is undertaking with the Foundation Industries. Dr Ormondroyd and his team lead the work supporting the pulp and paper industry through the Nation hub ‘TranSFIRe’.