Integrated Molecular Design of Melt-processable Bioresorbable Engineering Nanocomposites for Healthcare (BENcH)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering

Abstract

This proposal will deliver novel, integrated methodologies for the design and scalable manufacture of next generation resorbable polymer nanocomposites, linking the science and engineering principles which underpin successful processing of such materials. This will enable new smart health-care materials in applications from bone fracture fixation to drug delivery. The methodologies will be optimised on a system comprising novel nanoparticles, selected blends of medical-grade degradable polymer and specifically designed molecular dispersants. Optimised methodologies will be applied at scale on industrial equipment to produce demonstrator resorbable implants with specific structural attributes and degradation timescales. Wider applications include degradable food packaging and products requiring end-of-life disposal.

Planned Impact

The investigators will benefit via extension of collaborative work, improvement of facilities and a strong basis for downstream research and prestige gained through dissemination. The work would also open up opportunities for external collaboration both with academic institutions and industrial parties.

The students and researchers will benefit from extensive cross-disciplinary training and development of critical skills both in terms of laboratory capability and ability to communicate to peer and lay groups. In addition they will establish an international presence in the field, interacting with their peer groups and developing international links.

The wider academic community will benefit from gaining new understanding of nanocomposite materials, surfactants and associated methods developed during the course of the project. Collaborations developed as part of the project will help to foster links between groups and further collaborative and interdisciplinary research into associated fields such as manufacturing. The project is expected to develop from a foundation of understanding into a widely applicable field of research that will feed into new fields.

The University of Nottingham benefits directly though prestige publications on the work and the contribution to REF that will help to maintain its top 10 status.

Industrial parties linked with the project and members of the strategic advisory group will benefit through: (a) direct access to the results of the work, (b) the ability to influence the direction of the work stream, (c) the opportunity to be first to exploit the technology as it develops in the form of IP and first to market products.

Industrial parties outside of the core strategic group will also benefit from the work through knowledge transfer activities making them aware of the project and its outcomes.

Society as a whole will benefit through the availability of new material types applicable to medical use - providing improved quality of life. Extension of these materials and knowledge of their manufacture into additional fields will provide new products in different sectors (e.g. packaging), where the degradable character will offer routes to reducing waste in commodity products. Naturally derived polymers such as PLA could also help to reduce the requirements for oil in these sectors.

The economy will benefit through the development of new material types via the establishment of new companies or technology lines, providing job creation and revenue generation. The materials under investigation are a new development in a field not well understood and the UK has an opportunity to take a lead in this area. Basic materials could well be under industrial development within the duration of the project, with more advanced materials available within 5 - 10 years.

Publications

10 25 50

 
Description New dispersants have been successful designed for the target composites and these have been successfully attached to the target nanoparticle platelets. A method for continuous manufacturing the coated nanoparticles has been developed and is now being used to scale up the production to allow trials of the full composite materials to be conducted with the industrial sponsors. The dispersant coated nanoparticle have been successfully extrusion compounded into matrix polymers at several levels and the properties have been assessed and compared to both matrix polymer and composites made with nanoparticles that do not contain dispersant. Some processing issues were discovered with the best performing dispersant systems due to their high level of interfacial activity. This has been mitigated by developing a method a method to purify and partially mix the nanoparticles in matrix polymer prior to extrusion using supercritical carbon dioxide as a processing medium 2017). Additionally the un-coated particles have been shown to exhibit aggregation during freeze drying which mitigated by the addition of the dispersant. This is being further investigated as a further process benefit of the project work (2018).
Exploitation Route The continuous manufacture of dispersant coated nanoparticles is of great interest and utility to many materials market sectors / academic groups.

The purification / premixing of nanoparticles using supercritical carbon dioxide may allow other groups to overcome toxicological issue with other systems.

Further research is needed on the methods of isolating nano-partials and this has proven to be more problematic at scale. However the dispersant costing prove to overcome this issue to s considerable extent.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description One of the industrial funders is in the process of investigating the potential to use the BENcH dispersants to as additive coatings in of a second set of bio-materials which do not include hydroxyapatite (started 2017 - ongoing. Additionally a trial in planned for use of the HA particles on their full scale manufacturing assets (2018)
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Chemicals,Healthcare
Impact Types Economic

 
Description EPSRC Impact Accelerator
Amount £81,940 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K503800/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2014 
End 09/2015
 
Description Hermes Fellowship
Amount £31,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Nottingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 07/2017
 
Description Funding of Hermes Grant by Evonik 
Organisation Evonik Industries
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The partner are providing an additional 300 GBP to fund the Hermes fellowship and will also be introducing funding via work in-kind to compound the materials made by Nottingham into final articles
Collaborator Contribution This follow on project from the work which has followed on from the work conducted in the BENcH Grant, Evonik will be supplying polymer to this project
Impact Evonik have allowed the BENcH group to pre-process materials at their site during 2016
Start Year 2012
 
Description Funding of Hermes Grant by TESco Associate 
Organisation TESco Associates Inc
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We care preparing material to be sent to trail work at Tesco Associates site
Collaborator Contribution The partner are providing an additional 300 GBP to fund the Hermes fellowship and will also be introducing funding via work in-kind to compound the materials made by Nottingham into final articles
Impact This follow on project from the work which has followed on from the work conducted in the BENcH Grant
Start Year 2012
 
Description Scale up manufacture of the uncoated and coated nanoparticles achieved 
Organisation Promethean Particles Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The dispersal polymer was synthesized and characterized in sufficient quality for the scale up strategy agreed with Promethean Particles (PP) within the University of Nottingham Laboratories. This was passed on the PP who attempted to synthesized the coated and un-coated particles samples that were agreed for the trial at TESco Associates. However difficulties were encountered with the scale up of both of these materials. a) Coated Particles - This needed very large volumes of solvent to be used to manufacture these so a smaller amount of these were made as, to make the required amount, would have required too much in the form of Freeze drying costs. (b) Un-coated particles - greater levels of aggregation were observed with these materials during freeze drying. These materials were freeze dried by a toll processing company. The un-coated materials have been dispatched to and received by TESco a trial is planned with the these material both dried and non-dried after the Easter period.
Collaborator Contribution See the paragraph above for the part played by Promethean Particles
Impact These materials have been provided for a trial that will be held in the future so there has been no impact as yet.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Scale up manufacture of the uncoated and coated nanoparticles achieved 
Organisation Promethean Particles Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The dispersal polymer was synthesized and characterized in sufficient quality for the scale up strategy agreed with Promethean Particles (PP) within the University of Nottingham Laboratories. This was passed on the PP who attempted to synthesized the coated and un-coated particles samples that were agreed for the trial at TESco Associates. However difficulties were encountered with the scale up of both of these materials. a) Coated Particles - This needed very large volumes of solvent to be used to manufacture these so a smaller amount of these were made as, to make the required amount, would have required too much in the form of Freeze drying costs. (b) Un-coated particles - greater levels of aggregation were observed with these materials during freeze drying. These materials were freeze dried by a toll processing company. The un-coated materials have been dispatched to and received by TESco a trial is planned with the these material both dried and non-dried after the Easter period.
Collaborator Contribution See the paragraph above for the part played by Promethean Particles
Impact These materials have been provided for a trial that will be held in the future so there has been no impact as yet.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Impact paper in "Medical Plastic News" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was an article detailing the work conducted in the grant and within the group in the area of resorbable materials processing
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation at Warwick 2106 Internation conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference presentation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presented a Exhibirtion Stand at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The exhibition stand was in operation for 5 days during the summer exhibition including 2 evening session for policymakers and professional practitioners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Radio Broadcast by Dr D Focatiis on Bench 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This was a radio broadcast that supported the Summer Exhibition link to further publicise it
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016