Chief executive of Magna John Silker
Plans have been unveiled for the development of a £20m global centre of excellence in glass at Magna in Rotherham.
The Glass Futures project, the brain-child of the British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation in Sheffield, is backed by a consortium including two of the world’s largest glass manufacturers, as well as Siemens and Leeds University.
At the heart of the project will be a furnace producing 30 tonnes of glass per day for windows, bottles and fibre glass.
Dignitaries and representatives of the organisations involved with Glass Futures will gather at Magna next Friday (5 May) for an official launch. Among those attending will be Sharon Kemp, chief executive of Rotherham Council.
John Silker, chief executive of Magna, said: “This is an incredibly exciting project to be part of. As a former steelworks we are very much at the heart of industry in South Yorkshire and so we are thrilled to host this centre of international importance.”
The facility will bring together world experts to carry out research into energy and emissions reduction, glass formulation and new high-tech products.
Work on the project is expected to start later this year and when fully operational the facility will employ around 100 people.
The furnace will be housed in a large, previously unused area at Magna known as the ‘dark space’, with the intention of integrating it into the existing Magna visitor attraction.
Richard Katz, director of Glass Futures, a not for profit company, added: “We are very excited to be working with the team at Magna, which is the perfect venue for this project being at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Investment District and part of science education.”
Dave Dalton, chief executive of British Glass, one of the partners, said: “The glass industry has amazing potential for growth and, by bringing academics, manufacturers and technology companies together we can grasp that potential and bring real benefits to the UK economy.
“I look forward to seeing the technical leaps and competitive improvement this facility will enable and I am excited to see it coming to fruition so close to the heartland of glass manufacturing, here in Yorkshire.”
Other partners already involved in Glass Futures are Goole-based flat glass manufacturer Guardian Industries; the world’s leading glass bottle manufacturer Owens Illinois; the University of Leeds; Siemens; glass manufacturer Swarovski; the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London; the British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation, and Glass Technology Services.
Magna, which is housed in the former Templeborough steelworks near junction 34 of the M1, is an award-winning visitor attraction, with more than 100 hands-on exhibits designed to explore the four elements of air, water, earth and fire. It also hosts regular school trips and offers space for corporate events.