New Centre Will Make Chemical Processing Greener
Nigel Perry, chief executive of the CPI and Margaret Fay, chairman of One NorthEast at the NIBF
A national centre has been set up to help the Tees Valley confirm its status as one of the most important chemical industry hubs in the world.
The £12m National Industrial Biotechnology Facility (NIBF), based at the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) at the Wilton Centre, will transform the way chemicals are manufactured.
Margaret Fay, chairman of One NorthEast, opened the facility by unveiling a plaque.
The NIBF, which will create six jobs, will help firms replace outmoded chemical processing techniques with cleaner, greener, less wasteful methods.
It provides an open access trial and development centre so that businesses can test their ideas before investing. Once satisfied with the results, they will have the evidence to prove a business case to potential backers.
Biotechnology is an emerging field that uses natural substances to produce environmentally-friendly manufacturing methods.
The NIBF works by using catalysts - enzymes - for biotransformations, which produce molecules used to make everything from chemicals, pharmaceuticals and polymers to colorants, pesticides and biodiesel.
CPI is working with a UK research institute to take waste biomass and convert it to bioenergy and the demonstrator unit is under construction at the NIBF.
Another key area of NIBF activity is the development of biorefineries, which use crops or waste material to produce energy, fuel and heat instead of burning fossil fuels.
Large companies are seeing the potential and GlaxoSmithKline is already working on a development project with CPI.
Nigel Perry, chief executive of CPI, said: “This is a facility that truly represents what we are about – innovation. The NIBF offers new sustainable ways of making the chemicals society demands in a modern, clean and harmless way.
“Our facilities are state-of-the-art, from the equipment itself to our expert and highly capable team. We are marking our territory as leaders in this vital field.”
Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation, said: “Science and innovation are at the heart of the Government’s economic strategy for long-term growth and stability. Innovation is something we do well and our vision is to make the UK a world leader in science, research and innovation, producing economic value and improving our quality of life.”
CPI works in partnership with the Centre of Excellence for Biocatalysis, Biotransformations and Biomanufacturing (CoEBio3) research facility in Manchester, enabling a new process to be followed seamlessly from conception to production.
The Northern Way, a collaboration between the three northern regional agencies, has also supported the facility with a £3m investment.
Way, said: “The link up between CPI and the University of Manchester is an excellent illustration of the value of cross-Northern links, joining up areas of excellence to create real critical mass in expertise, and translating research into economic opportunity.”
Margaret Fay, chairman of One NorthEast, said: “The National Industrial Biotechnology Facility has the potential to confirm the North East as a major player on the international stage, and I’m delighted One NorthEast has supported it with £4.3m of funding.
“Bioprocessing and bioenergy are central to our vision for the future of process technologies, energy and our overall progress to becoming one of the first carbon-neutral regions, and this facility will help us to grow our economy alongside reducing our carbon and environmental impacts.”