A manufacturer of sustainable table tops, tiles and other surfaces originating from research at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has plans for a new factory to transform its production capacity.
The company, Alusid, uses a patented process to manufacture sustainable, high-quality building materials by recycling industrial waste ceramics and glass, which would otherwise go to landfill. Customers to date include Amazon, Four Seasons Hotels and Nando’s.
The firm began as a research project between two academics at UCLan and currently manufactures its products in batches using three kilns at a plant in Preston.
‘Continuous flow’ factory
Fundraising supported by new and existing investors has now raised £1.34 million to move production to a new purpose-built facility that will increase production capacity from 4,000m2 a year to 30,000m2 a month.
The new factory will be based on a continuous flow process, where products are fired by being fed onto a conveyer belt system in a steady stream. Testing of a pilot production line with world-leading Italian ceramic equipment company, Sacmi Group, found that the factory will be much more energy efficient than those used for making conventional tiles.
‘Validation of our research’
Dr Alasdair Bremner, co-founder and chief operating officer at Alusid, said: The building industry is increasingly looking for innovative sustainable products such as SilicaStone [Alusid’s brand name].
“This successful fundraising will enable Alusid to move to the next stage in development where we can really capitalise on the economies of scale coupled with lower energy and material costs.”
Co-founder professor David Binns added: “This is a massive validation of our research, which started out as a project to promote how designers could be more sustainable and environmentally responsible.”
Production of the new plant is expected to start in 2020.