The £50 million Glass Futures project will bring together Guardian Glass (USA), the University of Leeds, Siemens, Swarovski, and many other major glass companies and universities, in a consortium to create twin centres of excellence for glass in the north of England. This will put the UK at the forefront of global manufacturing.
The glass industry has amazing potential for growth and, by bringing academics, manufacturers and technology companies together, we can grasp that potential and bring real benefits to the UK economy, said Richard Katz, Director of Glass Futures.
The two sites expecting to be transformed are the mothballed line at the Pilkington Watson Street Works in St Helens, Merseyside and the University of Leeds new research and innovation campus in West Yorkshire.
The site at St Helens will be focused on the âhotâ side of glass production, such as carbon reduction, energy, and new materials. It will house the 30 tonne per day furnace and ancillary equipment needed for research, development, and demonstration, together with the laboratories and the other research facilities. It will play a crucial part in UK glass industry plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 80% by 2050.
Leeds will become the base for research in the âcoldâ side of glass production, which includes smart coatings for flat glass to reduce UV light or change colour and transparency, coatings for bottles or jars which would change colour depending on the shelf life of the contents, the use of glass materials for medical or pharmaceutical use, and strengthening structured glass facades for buildings. The exact location is not known yet, but it will include workshops, laboratories, and training facilities.
The proposed twin centres of excellence will create around 50 direct jobs in St Helens and another 50 in Leeds, with up to 1,000 indirect jobs in total. Work on the two sited will start later on this year and could be operational by spring 2019.