An increasing trend to reduce the overall weight of products in multiple industries such as aerospace, renewables, construction and transportation, is driving tremendous growth in the lightweight structures market. According to the UK Department for International Trade, it is projected that the global opportunity in lightweight structures, just for transport applications, will reach £138bn by 2021. In the last few years, the region of Greater Manchester has developed a specialist niche in this area, specifically tapping into opportunities in light alloys, technical textiles, coatings and graphene.
At the centre of this developing lightweight structures business cluster are international commercial successes such as Nanoco Technologies, PTG, Freudenberg and Luxfer MEL. Each of these companies have reported that their recent successes have been in part due to the opportunities and benefits that come from having a base in Greater Manchester.
The benefits of Greater Manchester include:
Well-developed supply chain
-Home to more than 300 automotive supply chain firms
-The centre of Europe’s largest aerospace cluster
An established infrastructure
-Centrally located in the UK, with intermodal access to UK and continental markets
-Just 2 hours by train to London and direct flights to 190 global destinations
Access to state-of-the-art High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres and £200 million in funding to help businesses turn ideas into commercial ventures.
A ready workforce and competitive costs
If you are in the business of producing lightweight structures, it isn’t just the Manchester region strengths in R&D but also its highly skilled workforce and competitive costs that offer fantastic commercialisation opportunities. Towns throughout the Greater Manchester area offer access to a large and well educated there is a talent pooI of 14,000 students studying advanced materials disciplines and over 100,000 people working in high productivity manufacturing. In addition, compared to other European markets, this opportunity is further enhanced by competitive operating costs for utilities, labour and industrial property.
Ceres Power has announced it will launch a new fuel cell manufacturing facility in the UK to act as a template to develop larger plants. The facility will be based in Redhill, Surrey and it will see £7m invested over the next two years, with the creation of 60 new jobs. This will reportedly deliver two megawatts worth of manufacturing capacity by the end of next year lough the facility could expand to up to 10 megawatts capacity.
Ceres Power is a fuel cell technology and brings cleaner and cheaper energy to businesses, homes and vehicles. The company is working with world-leading partners to embed their SteelCell technology in mass-market energy products for the commercial, residential and transportation markets. The flexible technology can generate power 24 hours a day, all year round from conventional fuels like natural gas and from sustainable fuels like biogas, ethanol or hydrogen.
The announcement comes shortly after the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) awarded £35m of government funding to three UK-based innovative low carbon powertrain projects, including Ceres Power in August. The powertrain projects are hoping to enhance the UK’s supply chain and competitiveness in the development of ultra-low emission vehicles.
The project consortiums are made up of several leading companies, including Hofer powertrain, Aston Martin, Ceres Power, Nissan, Artemis intelligent Power, Danfoss, and Robbie Fluid Engineering.