A Preston manufacturing company has raised £1.34 million towards a new energy efficient factory that will transform its production capacity.Advertisement
Alusid, which is the first spin-out business from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), makes sustainable building materials at a plant in Preston by recycling industrial waste that would otherwise go to landfill.
Products including table tops, tiles and other surfaces are sold under the brand name SilicaStone. Buyers include Amazon, Four Seasons Hotels, Nando’s, and Wells Fargo bank, which is using the material in its new London headquarters.
The company began from a research project between Professor David Binns and Dr Alasdair Bremner, to promote how designers could be more sustainable and environmentally responsible.
Professor Binns said: “This new funding is a massive validation of our research. It will enable Alusid to scale up its production processes and enable us to meet the demand from interested customers.”
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The funds will be invested in developing a new factory based on a continuous flow process, where products are fired by being fed onto a conveyer belt system in a steady stream.
The move follows the successful testing of a pilot production line with world-leading Italian ceramic equipment company, Sacmi Group, which will also help to design the new factory. The Alusid process means the factory will be much more energy efficient than those used for making conventional tiles.
Dr Bremner said: “The building industry is increasingly looking for innovative sustainable products such as SilicaStone. 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.”
The plant is expected to start production in 2020. Once in operation, Alusid’s capacity will rise from 4,000m2 a year to 30,000m2 a month, based on a single line producing tiles.
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The funding round remains open for further investment up to a total of £1.75 million until 31 December 2018. It is estimated the cost of building a factory is about £10 million. Options being explored to finance the build include an initial public offering.