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Glass made from slate tested for Welsh wine and cider producer

Dr Amanda Lloyd from Aberystwyth University and Richard Wyn Huws from Pant Du Vineyard and Orchard with a sample of the glass made from slate.

A new kind of glass made from discarded slate for a Welsh wine producer has been tested for its food preserving qualities by researchers at Aberystwyth University.

Dyffryn Nantlle based Pant Du Vineyard and Orchardproduces a range of red, white and rose wines from vines grown in a former slate mining valley in Snowdonia, along with cider and apple juice from local orchards.

As part of its plans to develop a new range of apple cider vinegar, Pant Du turned to researchers at the Food, Diet and Health Research Group at Aberystwyth University to test the freshness preserving properties of the proposed new slate glass.

Dark glass has traditionally been used to protect red wine and medicinal products from the effects of light.

The team at Aberystwyth tested the new glass for its ability to block visible light along with infrared and ultraviolet rays, comparing its performance with clear and amber glass.

Working on herbs and soft fruit such as chives and tomatoes, early results indicate that the new slate glass performed better than its clear and amber counterparts. The next phase will be to test with liquids.

The work is funded by the Welsh Government’s Future Foods legacy project SMART Recovery (funded by the Welsh Government Covid Recovery grant), which aims to support businesses to develop innovative and healthier foods to promote economic growth following the pandemic.

Richard Wyn Huws from Pant Du Vineyard and Orchard said: “We are delighted to be working with Aberystwyth University on this innovative project and benefit from the expertise and technology there to prove that this new glass works. It is also great to let the world know about the wonderful things that can be produced from slate waste and put Dyffryn Nantlle and the slate heritage of north Wales on the map.”

Slate has been mined in Wales since Roman times but came to dominate the economy of northwest Wales in the later part of the 19th century.

With only 5% considered suitable for commercial use, slate waste is a plentiful, easily accessible and potentially valuable material for the new glass being considered by Pant Du to prolong the shelf-life of its products.

Dr Amanda Lloyd from Aberystwyth University said: “Each year a huge percentage of food is thrown away with up to 70% caused by households which are not able to consume the amount of food they buy before it becomes inedible. This is why we are interested in testing and developing the slate glass with Pant Du. Additionally it is made from a by-product of the slate industry, which introduces the added element of a natural and locally available material being potentially used for food preservation. And all this has been made possible by Welsh Government funding from the Decarbonisation and Covid Recovery Fund, alongside SMART Recovery, another Welsh Government Covid Recovery funded project.”

The initial findings of the research were presented at a ReValue:SMART Recovery Workshop hosted by AberInnovation, in March 2023.

The workshop focused on how innovative approaches to managing by-products, side-streams and waste can create novel ingredients which can be utilised in healthier foods to support health and well-being, as well as supporting business growth and promote a zero-waste economy.

The Food, Diet and Health Research Group at the Department of Life Sciences at Aberystwyth University has pioneered the development of methods for compositional analysis and comparison of food raw materials, and has developed methodology for human metabolic phenotyping and measuring dietary exposure using biomarkers in human blood and urine.

It has also been working with food and drink companies across Wales, to investigate the next generation of functional foods and alternative proteins.