UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced £22.5m (US$29.9m) in funding for five new circular economy R&D centres.
The new centres will help the UK to move towards a circular economy by developing methods to use fewer resources and reuse and recover materials that would ordinarily become waste. The R&D centres will look at reusing waste materials in the textiles, construction, chemical, and metal industries. Each will receive £4.5m in funding.
The five centres are as follows:
The Interdisciplinary Textiles Circularity Centre, which will be led by the Royal College of Art and will aim to use household waste, crop residues, and used textiles to create new textiles. It will develop new UK-based supply chains from waste management and agriculture to textile production.
The Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral based Construction Materials (ICEC-MCM), led by University College London, will look to develop systems for more efficient use and recovery of minerals. It will do this by exploring how structures made from mineral materials such as aggregates, cement, and bricks can be designed and manufactured to reduce waste and pollution in the construction industry.
The Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy, led by Loughborough University, will aim to reduce the chemical industry’s reliance on fossil fuels by developing methods to recover and reuse olefins from waste products and CO2 Recovered olefins can then be used to create products such as synthetic fibres, plastics, and detergents.
The Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre in Technology Metals, led by the University of Exeter, will explore how to create a circular economy for metals such as cobalt, rare earths, and lithium. These metals are essential in technologies such as electric cars and wind turbines.
The Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Metals, led by Brunel University London, will look at how the UK can recycle metals for use in sectors such as aerospace, automotive, and electronics, as metals for these industries are currently imported.
Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Projects like these are excellent examples of placing manufacturers at the forefront of the green industrial revolution. I am pleased to support these new cutting-edge research centres that will transform the way industry reuses and recycles materials.”
Dame Lynn Gladden, EPSRC Executive Chair, said: “The move to a circular economy, where we use less resources and reuse more materials, is central to the UK’s green industrial revolution and our commitment to achieving a net zero economy by 2050. By bringing together a wide range of academic disciplines with industry partners, the centres will catalyse innovative new approaches and technologies that will boost the UK economy and benefit the environment.”
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