Thursday, September 6, 2018

News: Metalysis powers up industrial scale plant in Rotherham

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Innovative firm, Metalysis is powering up a world-first commercial plant following millions of pounds of investment at its Materials Manufacturing Centre in Rotherham.

The Manvers company holds the worldwide exploitation rights to the FCC Cambridge process which sees specialist powder metals created in a simple, cost effective process with significant environmental benefits. It is in the process of commercialising the technology to produce titanium, tantalum, and related high value alloys. These are used increasingly by major worldwide industries such as aerospace, marine, medical, chemical, automotive and electronics.

The finished facility at Manvers means that it can now produce tens-to-hundreds of tonnes per annum of high value, niche and master alloys.

Backed by investors and grants, the Cambridge University spin out secured £20m in 2016 and invested in a new Materials Discovery Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), also in Rotherham. Earlier this year the firm raised a further £12m ahead of the start of commercial production in Rotherham.

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The so-called "Generation 4" technological expansion signifies Metalysis' transition into commercial production following more than a decade of phased technology development.

Being modular, production can be ramped up in phased expansions. The technology has also presented opportunities to reduce all-in costs and environmental footprints compared to traditional, melting production routes. The Metalysis technology produces metal powder directly from oxide using electrolysis.

The project has also created a UK source of supply. Metalysis has been working with partners in Canada and Australia to create a supply chain outside of China for rare-earth-element (REE) oxides and alloys.

Another major benefit of Metalysis' technology is its multi-metal capability, which enables the company to produce alloy "recipes" that comparable processing routes cannot. Where conventional technologies are unable to elegantly combine elements with melting and density differentials, this technology can because it is a solid-state process.

One recently announced R&D programme focuses on a high value aluminium-scandium alloy. Scandium is a relatively scarce, high-value mineral used to produce aluminium alloys. Scandium-reinforced alloys are suitable for the manufacture of weldable aluminium products such as car chassis, car panels and aircraft fuselages and other light transport applications.

Although there are primary production scenarios under development, it is largely mined as a by-product with little surety of supply. As an alloy addition, scandium can as much as triple manufacturing costs at current pricing.

The Gen4 project was mechanically completed on time in the fourth quarter of 2017. It has since undergone hot commissioning, trial runs, optimisation and handover to Operations.

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Dr. Dion Vaughan, chief executive officer at Metalysis, said: "In powering up and operating our industrial plant, Metalysis is poised to achieve its target to generate significant profits from our new South Yorkshire production facility.

"Ours is a true British success story with international implications. Metalysis has grown from the "lightbulb moment" at Cambridge University in the late-1990s, relocated to South Yorkshire to benefit from regional excellence in operational skillsets in the early-2000s, and now onwards towards a bright commercial future.

"We share this achievement with a number of partners, notably our plant-builder, K Home International, and our shareholders who have supported the journey."

Work is already underway on "Generation 5" - manufacturing options for thousands of tonnes per annum of these high value metal alloy powders. It is designed to retrofit into an existing industrial site.

Metalysis website

Images: Metalysis

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