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In his role of Innovation Programme Manager at GTS, Rob Ireson is responsible for coordinating all R&D activities within the company, from concept to commercialisation. He is also the Lead Project Officer for Glass Futures, overseeing the development of the St Helens pilot facility and coordinating all Glass Futures related activities and grant-funded projects.

Over the last six years Rob has helped to secure more than £7.5m grant funding for GTS and is currently leading two major grant funded projects aiming to development new raw materials based on biomass ash by-products with potential to reduce the environmental impact of glass manufacturing. Other projects that Rob has been involved in include the development of new glasses for Photonics/laser applications, bioactive glass coatings, new glass-based Additive Manufacturing technologies, laser technologies for processing and bonding glass, glass-based technologies to improve productivity within the Oil & Gas sector and a novel electric-melting technology for the vitrification of nuclear waste.

Rob Ireson

Rob Ireson1*, Daniel J. Backhouse2, Wei Deng2, Martyn Marshall1, Paul A. Bingham2
1Glass Technology Services Ltd., 9 Churchill Way, Chapeltown, Sheffield, S35 2PY 2Materials and Engineering Research Institute, Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, Howard Street, Sheffield S1 1WB, UK

A recent IEA Bioenergy report estimated that around 10 Million tonnes of ash are globally produced from electricity generation using biomass fuel sources1. A proportion of this ash is used in fertilisers and low-grade building products such as fillers in construction products and aggregates, however, much of the ash is sent to landfill.

These ashes often contain high levels of elements such as sodium, potassium and calcium, that are valuable for glass manufacturing and which could provide a cost-effective route to lower glass furnace operating temperatures. However, these ash-based materials may also contain undesirable elements such as certain transition metals, chlorine and heavy metals, and this must be addressed if these ashes are to be used in commercial glass manufacturing. Even if these undesirable elements can be reduced to acceptable levels or removed, glass manufacturers still require a detailed qualification test programme to prove that these new materials will not adversely affect glass quality, the furnace or downstream processes.

Over the last 12 months GTS, SHU and partners have been working closely with biomass power plants and their supply chains to develop their ash wastes. The technical, economic and regulatory challenges associated with establishing a new raw materials supply chain based on a waste-product will be explored along with measures for how they might be addressed.

[1] “Options for increased use of ash from biomass combustion and co-firing”, IEA Bioenergy report, 2018. https://www.ieabioenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IEA-Bioenergy-Ash-management-report-revision-5-november.pdf