The unique research centre putting Liverpool City Region at the heart of Net Zero plans to decarbonise industry

Glass Futures is a globally unique development that’s not just a flagship for Liverpool City Region innovation but is also leading the way in decarbonising energy-intensive industry.

That’s why the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has awarded £9m to support the £54m project in the home of the world’s glass industry, St Helens.

Co-funded by the UK Government and industry, Glass Futures will be the first industry-led global centre of excellence in open innovation, R&D and training.

The £53m facility will carry out research and development, demonstrations and globally-unique trials of technology aimed at making heavy manufacturing industries more sustainable.

Aston Fuller, Glass Futures General Manager

Aston Fuller, Glass Futures General Manager, said: “St Helens has got a rich history of glass innovation – the float glass process was invented here – and Glass Futures is really taking that tradition of innovation in glass making and actually continuing it into the future, looking the technologies that we develop today that are going to help make our society decarbonise in the future.

“Net Zero is vitally important and assets like this are really going to put Liverpool City Region at the heart of that industrial decarbonisation. We are actually working with global manufacturers to help decarbonise their industries because this asset really does offer something unique that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.”

Co-funded by the UK government, the new Research & Technology Organisation (RTO) involves some of the world’s biggest names in glass and technology – Diageo, Encirc, Guardian, Heineken, Owens Illinois, Siemens and UK trade body British Glass, in collaboration with the Universities of Liverpool, Cambridge, Leeds and Sheffield.

In a 2021 trial, Glass Futures teamed up with industry giant Encirc to produce the world’s most sustainable bottle, made from 100% recycled glass and using only the energy from ultra-low-carbon biofuels, creating a 90% carbon reduction.

The world’s first trial of a 100% hydrogen-fired commercial float glass furnace took place at nearby Pilkington’s in late 2021.

The centre’s construction will bring a host of social and economic benefits with 50% of people working on the project coming from within the Liverpool City Region and 50% of project spend being local.

The project promises more than 735 apprenticeship hours for its duration, a commitment to saving 1000tn of CO2 emissions and 100 volunteer hours committed to local ‘green’ projects.

The 165,000 sq ft transformational global glass research and innovation facility is expected to be complete in January 2023.

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