Investment boost for hi-tech ceramics firm

Finance Yorkshire's Ashwin Kumaraswamy, second left, with, l-r, Dr Hywel Jones from Sheffield Hallam University,  XeraCarbTechnical Consultant Dr Anthony Pick and chairman Chris Wright
Finance Yorkshire's Ashwin Kumaraswamy, second left, with, l-r, Dr Hywel Jones from Sheffield Hallam University, XeraCarbTechnical Consultant Dr Anthony Pick and chairman Chris Wright
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A UNIVERSITY spin-out that has developed a lightweight ceramic composite that can stop bullets is gearing up to go into production with the help of a six figure investment from Finance Yorkshire.

XeraCarb was launched by Sheffield Hallam University material scientist Dr Hywel Jones and Barnsley ceramics expert Dr Anthony Pick in August last year and its development has been supported by Sheffield Hallam’s Research and Innovation Office.

Earlier this year, XeraCarb secured an initial investment from Finance Yorkshire to help it develop its material, explore different uses and set up a management team to grow the business.

Now it has received a six figure sum that will enable it to set up a factory in South Yorkshire which will initially employ about 10 people.

XeraCarb’s ceramic composite has a wide range of potential applications, including personal body armour and components for the automotive, minerals handling, incineration and power generation sectors.

However, its initial use will be to make durable, lightweight “kiln furniture” used to support porcelain and bone china tableware when it is fired in a kiln.

Chief executive Dr Chris Wright says that in the past up to 75 per cent of the material in a kiln was kiln furniture.

XeraCarb will radically reduce the amount of furniture and increase the volume of saleable products in a kiln and Dr Wright says the company will be targeting potential customers among European ceramics manufacturers, once it completes its search for suitable premises.

“I’m delighted XeraCarb has received such impressive financial backing and can now put its proven technology into production,” said Dr Wright.

“There has been a lot of commercial interest in our materials and we can now start to support our customers with materials designed to their specifications.”

XeraCarb is also planning to start a programme of advanced testing and validation of its ceramic armour, which has been developed with backing from the Ministry of Defence.