Embedding Manufacturing Development into Formulation Research (EMFormR)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Chemical Engineering


Johnson Matthey (JM), Unilever (UL) and ITS Ltd have established a project to develop approaches and techniques to
allow manufacturing related information to be gleaned during the development of new formulations. Generally, and
especially for products which contain multiple components, some of which do not mix (e.g. emulsions, creams, slurries,
suspensions), the formulator does not significantly consider the issues that will arise when the new product transfers from
the laboratory into pilot scale trials and finally into full scale manufacturing. Thus the traditional approaches to formulation
develop products at laboratory scale with little or no attention to their "manufacturability".
Not only is this inefficient in terms of research and development, it also leads to sub-optimal manufacturing; higher costs
and higher environmental impact. Compromises on product performance may need to be made to meet market launch
schedules, which may ultimately affect competitiveness and market share. Working with the Universities of Birmingham
(UoB) and Manchester (UoM), the project will address the key issues that have largely precluded gaining meaningful
process information at the laboratory scale.
This project will demonstrate the principles of embedding manufacturing process variable studies into the earliest stages of
product R&D by reducing the scale at which reliable process information can be obtained. Such concurrent productprocess
design will result in a greater innovation capability leading to faster launch of better products with an improved cost
structure and an enhanced capability for continued innovation. The project will thus introduce new techniques for product
and process characterisation, encompassing fluid flow, mixing characterisation, modelling and optimisation techniques and
engineering design. This will provide a framework for defining a process toolbox with the capability to create superior
products and production processes. This involves not only the time honoured issues of scale up but also specific
difficulties of measuring in real time the critical product properties across all scales.
Johnson Matthey and Unilever will apply the outcomes to vehicle emission control catalysts and hair care products respectively.

Planned Impact

Industrial and economic impact.
The project outcomes will impact in terms of
-concurrent product-process design. The proposed demonstrators for emission catalyst washcoats and hair liquids will
provide a direct platform for translation; both JM and UL will carry out further validation studies beyond the lifetime of the
project. Impact will be generated via development of modelling approaches with appropriate discretisation which can be
used to develop novel process scale-up workflows for new product formulations.
-innovation and application of instrumentation via application of electrical tomographic and NMR methods for inline
measurement of rheology and mixing. This project will bring the primary benefit of a closer relationship with key users and
the translation of technology into manufacturing. Instrumentation developments will enable improved product and process
characterisation at and in-line with consequent benefit both in production and in new market opportunities within existing
customer sectors.
The methods and outcomes of this project will thus have potential impact beyond the consortium across a number of
- FMCG and catalysis: all companies manufacturing formulated liquid/solid products suffer from scale up and mixing
concerns which affect product quality.
- Adjacent industry sectors (pharmaceuticals, minerals, chemical): many industries process materials whose history has a
profound impact upon microstructure and thus product performance and function, whether this involves functionalised
materials (e.g. IMERYS) or design of drug delivery systems (e.g. AstraZeneca, Pfizer GSK).
A range of dissemination routes will be used to ensure that other companies gain understanding of the findings of the
- Engineering Doctoral Centre; UoB hold a three-day annual Formulation Engineering Conference at which the work of the
collaboration will be presented, industries present include Akso Nobel, BASF, Dupont Teijin Films, Mondelez
(Kraft/Cadbury), Pepsico, P&G, Rolls Royce and IMERYS as well as the industry partners.
- IChemE's Formulated Product Engineering Special Interest Group (FPESIG); hold annual meetings and regular webinars
attended by many industrial representatives, the work of the collaboration will be presented at these.
- National Formulation Centre (NFC) and Materials innovation Factory (MIF). The partners are involved in the
establishment of the National Formulation Centre (NFC) and in the HEFCE supported £40M MIF at University of Liverpool.
Both have an open access policy and thus the benefits of this TSB project will be readily accessible.
- KTNs: we will link with all relevant Knowledge Transfer Networks which include Chemistry Innovation (through NFC), and
Environmental Sustainability KTNs
Academic impact.
The project will be of interest to academics working in the field of process tomography, instrument development, rheology,
multiphase flow, fluid mechanics and colloid and interfacial science. We plan to disseminate aspects of this work to
academics by publication in relevant journals (Chem. Eng. Sci., AIChE Journal, Journal of Rheology, Journal of Non-
Newtonian Fluid Mechanics) and by attendance at conferences such as the 8th World Congress of Industrial Process
Tomography - WCIPT (venue TBA 2015/16), the 9th International Symposium of Mixing in Industrial Processes - ISMIP 9
(venue TBA 2016/17), and the Annual AIChE meeting (venue TBA 2016).
Societal impact.
The new workflows developed by the project will lead to reduction in environmental footprint by reduction of waste, energy
and materials used in scale up of new formulations by both UL and JM. In general the project will reduce the stress of
manufacture of formulated liquids on the local environment - we anticipate that the results of the project will be
disseminated to the locality by JM and UL through their local outreach programmes, involving local schools and media as well as talks at local
Description The findings are being used to develop new high throughput screening equipment used in Unilever for Shampoos formulations and in JM for catalyst washcoat formulations.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals
Impact Types Economic