High-performance plastics manufacturer, Victrex, and The University of Manchester have embarked on a collaborative project to reduce waste in monomer production.
The programme was kicked-off with the help of the Knowledge Centre for Materials Chemistry (KCMC) and aims to develop more sustainable, resource efficient manufacturing processes for monomer raw materials.
Victrex was keen to instigate the project due to increasing demand and a need to become more sustainable as a business. The research should develop a less wasteful monomer production process while also producing a monomer of higher purity and consistency. Protecting security of supply is a driver for Victrex in taking this project forward.
Success with this project will mark an important step forward for the plastics industry as a whole.
Victrex were initially keen to undertake the project internally but found the challenges involved warranted external collaboration and, based on past positive experiences with the KCMC they reached out to them to help find appropriate partners for the research.
Dr John Grasmeder, Technical Director at Victrex, says: “Whenever Victrex is thinking of new products and processes, the first people we speak to are the KCMC. Their Knowledge Managers have an excellent awareness of academic capabilities at UK universities and have a strong industry focus.”
The KCMC also helped Victrex calculate the value-add that specified partners would bring to the collaboration.
The monomer production research now underway at Victrex and the University of Manchester is viable for funding from the Technology Strategy Board under itsSustainable Manufacturing for the Process Industry programme.
Victrex and The University of Manchester applied jointly for funding from this scheme and a nine month feasibility study is now underway.
If successful, the next stage will be to take from lab (working in grams) to the industrial pilot plant (working in kilograms).
Victrex is a leading global manufacturer of high-performance plastics. It is a UK chemical success story – bought out of ICI in 1993, it is now a £1.2bn listed company with 700 employees. Its markets include biomaterials for joint replacements, lighter weight materials for aircraft, and industrial products for harsh environments.