Silverwoods Waste Management has accessed funded R&D support from a Lancaster University PhD researcher

The owners of a family firm have taken on a second Lancaster University PhD researcher to continue the important work of researching the carbon capturing potential of cement bypass dust (CBD), a waste product of cement production, which is used by farmers to improve pastureland.

The project is funded through the Eco-I North West Programme which recruits graduate researchers to work with North West England based small and medium sized businesses who want to develop innovative carbon saving products and services.

Managing director Julian Silverwood comments, "We have established a fabulous working relationship with Lancaster University, it’s helping to propel our business forward, the costs are negligible for any company and you get them back from R&D tax credits."

For Mollie Frost, the project’s graduate researcher, the PhD offers ‘the best of both worlds.’

"I am looking at to what extent we can create a net decrease in carbon and how many of the carbon emitting steps we can neutralise through carbon sequestration," Mollie explains. "With the UK Government aiming to reach net zero by 2050, we need technologies and products which help us sequester more carbon."

Mollie’s research builds on the work of another Lancaster PhD researcher. Rachel Baxter will shortly complete her PhD with Silverwoods Waste Management, quantifying the impact of CBD on plant growth. Rachel found working with a company brought many advantages, as well as the satisfaction of knowing her research will be useful.

Julian says the benefits of the scheme make it a ‘no brainer’ for his business.  

“The research has given us a lot of credibility with our clients, with farmers and with the regulator. We’ve now got a far better understanding of the product chemically and how it actually works in the field. This means we can be much more specific about the amount needed for different crops and soil types. That’s not just useful for us but for farmers as well.

"The work Mollie is doing on carbon is going to have huge benefits for our customers, enabling them to offset against their greenhouse gas emissions."

Mollie is one of 20 new PhD and four new Masters’ researchers, who are working with businesses across the North West. Their projects cover a wide range of sectors including renewable energy, flood management, electric vehicles, waste management, food production, air quality, biotechnology and fashion. They span many disciplines including business, environmental sciences, chemistry, engineering and computing. Topics range from using green chemistry to help develop vegetable based waxes to replace petrochemical products to forecasting electric vehicle energy demands on the national grid.

The programme is led by the award-winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University which has developed this collaborative research model over the past eight years. It has already assisted over 700 SMEs and supported more than 100 graduate researchers to help develop over 250 new low carbon products.

Eco-I North West is recruiting businesses interested in low carbon innovations with 2 to 12-month R&D projects now available. Businesses can find out more here, and should contact us (  to discuss suitable opportunities. Support is available to ERDF eligible businesses across Cumbria, Lancashire, Liverpool City Region, Cheshire & Warrington and Greater Manchester. Eco-I NW is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Runcorn and Widnes World: