A consortium led by sustainable technology innovator Sonichem has been granted nearly 600,000 in funding from Innovate UKs 'Resource efficiency for materials and manufacturing' (REforMM) programme. The funding will accelerate the development of the proprietary Sonichem ultrasound technology and the production of renewable, cost-effective alternatives to petrochemicals commonly used in the production of plastics, resins, and composites within the automotive industry.
The cutting-edge CARMA (carbon-neutral agroforestry-derived resins to materials for automotive applications) project will apply Sonichems ultrasonic processing technique to automotive applications for the first time. The patented breakthrough approach converts sawdust, the biomass by-product from forestry operations, into high-quality lignin. This renewable material will then serve as the basis for bio-based platform chemicals, creating green alternatives to conventional petrochemical-derived materials currently used to produce various vehicle components.
This transformative initiative is being undertaken in collaboration with technology innovation catalyst CPI, the National Composites Centre (NCC), Scott Bader, SHD Composites and Polestar, with each industry leader contributing its own specialised knowledge and expertise. In particular, CPI will support scale-up of the Sonichem technology; Scott Bader will pioneer the development of high-performance, sustainable composite resin formulations; and the NCC, SHD Composites and Polestar will together explore the potential of these novel materials for automotive interiors applications.
The CARMA project aligns with the UK Government's focus on resource-efficient, sustainable industrial materials as it aims to significantly reduce the UKs reliance on imported composite materials, which currently amounts to approximately 250-260 million per year. The newly awarded funding from Innovate UK will enable the international consortium to establish a robust and renewable lignin supply chain within the UK and accelerate the formulation of sustainable plastics and resins that contribute to steering the automotive industry toward a net-zero future and enhancing the UKs bioeconomy.
Adrian Black, CEO of Sonichem, said: We're extremely pleased to have the backing of Innovate UK's REforMM programme for this strong industrial consortium. This funding is a catalyst in our quest to offer the automotive industry a sustainable alternative to petrochemical-derived plastics. With Sonichem's ultrasound technology and the collaborative expertise of our partners, we are set to make strides toward a net-zero future and strengthen the UK's bioeconomy.
David Fishpool, Verification Manager at the NCC, said: Creating a sustainable future is at the core of our mission. The National Composites Centre is proud to be part of this transformative initiative to accelerate the development of sustainable, cost-effective alternatives to petrochemicals in the production of plastics, resins, and composites for the automotive industry. Our role in this project underscores our commitment to driving innovation and sustainability in the materials sector. We eagerly anticipate contributing our expertise to this vital effort today, for a greener tomorrow.
Steven Brown, Group Sustainable Technology Manager at Scott Bader, commented: Scott Bader is pleased to be part of this exciting project, and we look forward to working with our highly regarded industrial and technology partners to accelerate the valorisation of abundant and sustainable biomass towards high-performance materials.
Nick Smith, Technical Director at SHD Composites, said: SHD Composite Materials Ltd. is very excited to be working with Sonichem on the next generation of sustainable resins wholly sourced from UK feedstocks as part of our ongoing commitment to reduce the ecological impact of our products. These materials have the potential to be a game changer in the high-value composites market.
Read more about this trailblazing partnership on the new Sonichem website.
Sonichem (formerly Bio-Sep) is an award-winning clean tech company dedicated to pioneering green chemical production through innovative ultrasonics. Our proprietary technology transforms low-value woody biomass into valuable green chemicals, with applications spanning bio-based materials, resins and composites, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and more. This sustainable solution is currently being showcased at our industrial-scale pilot plant, with plans in place to build a commercial biorefinery.
CPI catalyses the adoption of advanced technologies and manufacturing solutions to benefit people, places, and our planet. Were a pioneering social enterprise that accelerates the development, scale-up and commercialisation of smart AgriFoodTech, energy storage, HealthTech, materials, and pharma innovations. Through our incredible innovation experts and infrastructure, we look beyond the obvious to transform healthcare and drive towards a sustainable future. As a trusted partner of industry, academia, government, entrepreneurs and the investment community, we connect the dots within the innovation ecosystem to make great ideas and inventions a reality. We believe by working together we can build a better collective future, and as part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, we facilitate access to world-class organisations to deliver transformation across industries and landscapes. Creating lasting global impact from the North of England and Scotland, we invest in people and disruptive technologies to invigorate economies, create circular supply chains and make our world a better place.
About the NCC
The National Composites Centre (NCC) is the UKs world-leading composite research and development facility, where innovators come when they need to make things lighter, stronger, smarter and more sustainable. Its key focus areas are composites, digital engineering, hydrogen and sustainability. With access to 'beyond' state-of-the-art technology and the best composites engineering capabilities in the world, the NCC collaborates with customers to solve the most complex engineering challenges of our time. Part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the NCC works across all manufacturing sectors and has forged strong links with aerospace, energy, defence, space, construction, infrastructure, auto, rail, marine and biomedical fields. It works with organisations across the board from micro enterprises and SMEs to disrupters, the supply chain and OEMs, providing businesses with a de-risked environment to design, develop, test and scale their ideas and get them to market fast. For more information, visit https://www.nccuk.com/
About Scott Bader
Scott Bader is an employee-owned global manufacturer of advanced composites, structural adhesives and functional polymers. Established in 1921, we have a century of expertise in manufacturing high-quality, innovative products for a variety of markets around the world. Scott Bader now employs 800 people across seven manufacturing sites and 18 offices worldwide. Scott Bader is committed to expanding its global reach, with recent ventures including North America, India, Japan and Australia, while continuing to build on its reputation for innovation, outstanding quality and technical expertise.
About SHD Composites
SHD Composites Group operates through four manufacturing sites in the UK, Europe and USA, and is a well-established industry supplier of high-quality structural and tooling prepreg materials. Accredited to AS9100 Rev D and ISO 9001:2015, SHD prides itself on its quality, service and responsiveness to local customer needs.
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