Enabling manufacturing of Functional Nanomaterials using SynBio

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Chemical & Biological Engineering

Abstract

This year, the global demand for nanomaterial, which is already a multi-billion$ industry, will have grown 2.5-fold since 2012. Current nanomaterials production methods are at least 1000 times more wasteful when compared to the production of bulk and fine chemicals. Consequently there is an urgent need to develop green production methods for nanomaterials which can allow greater control over materials properties, yet require less energy, produce less waste (i.e. eco-friendly) and are cost-effective.

Nature produces more than 60 distinct inorganic nanomaterials (e.g. CaCO3, Fe3O4, silica) on the largest of scales through self-assembly under ambient conditions (biomineralisation). Although biological methods for nanomaterials synthesis (e.g. using microorganisms or complex enzymes) are effective in reducing environmental burden, they are expensive, inefficient and/or currently not scalable to industrial production.

We will adopt a synthetic biology (SynBio) approach, which is one of the EPSRC's core strategic themes, by harnessing the biological principles to design advanced nanomaterials leading to novel manufacturing methods. SynBio is a very powerful tool for the production of high-precision advanced functional nanomaterials and our approach marries two of the "8 great technologies for the future" ("Synthetic Biology" and "Advanced Nanomaterials"). Instead of using cells or microbes, our SynBio strategy uses synthetic molecules (SynBio additives) inspired from biomineralisation. SynBio produces a wide range of well-defined and tunable nanomaterials under mild (ambient) conditions, quickly and with little waste. Our SynBio approach offers the potential for high-yields, like the traditional chemical precipitation method, together with the precision, customisation, efficiency and low waste of biomineralisation.

The bulk of research on bioinspired synthesis of nanomaterials has been performed at small scales and, although there are good opportunities for developing nanomaterials manufacturing based on bioinspired approaches, there are no reports on larger-scale investigations. Adopting a bioinspired SynBio approach, this project will enable the controlled synthesis and scalability of silica and magnetic nanoparticles (SNP and MNP) which are worth ~$11 billion globally. These methods are far more amenable to scale-up and can truly be considered 'green'. This SynBio process can reduce the manufacturing carbon footprint (by >90%), thus providing a significant cost benefit to industry.

Planned Impact

Successful completion of this research has the potential to benefit the UK industry, society and the environment, and also make impact internationally. This project combines new manufacturing technologies to challenge current methods and resource sustainability, and multi-scale modelling to develop new tools and methods, which directly align with the outcomes and ambitions of becoming a "Productive and Resilient Nation" (EPSRC's new delivery plan for 2016 and beyond). The project outcomes will form a knowledge and resource base, with potential to make large impacts to the reduction of costs of nano-products, emission-reduction and job-creation. This project will deliver world-class research hardware, software and training on green manufacturing methods. Each area is detailed below.

There will be a major economic and societal impact from large-scale green manufacturing of advanced nanoparticles. Currently, large-scale green manufacturing of nanomaterials does not exist. The outcomes of this project will enable the UK's leadership in green manufacturing of advanced functional materials and create jobs in the UK. This project's output will play a part in delivering more cost-effective, sustainable manufacturability for the UK, e.g. meeting 2050 CO2 reduction targets whilst securing supply. We have strong support from industry partners who are keen to commercialise the outcomes to design and manufacture specific nano-products.

Owing to unique environmentally friendly manufacturing using SynBio approach, there is the potential to help reduce energy costs, fossil fuel dependence and the use of toxic/hazardous chemicals compared to existing nanomaterials manufacturing. Green manufacturing can create new products with a much more diverse range of functionalities and properties. Green manufacturing will provide significant improvement in product quality and reduction in costs, thus giving industry partners advantages over their competitors. The outputs will also enable us to create/expand UK manufacturing-base, enter new markets and create additional jobs in the UK.

Research outcomes, when made available and delivered to public, will see one of the greatest impacts in coming years. We aim to achieve impact by delivering research outcomes to public and school community. The society will learn about sustainable manufacturing and its long-term positive impacts.
 
Title Logo 
Description We created a logo for the project 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact This provides a visual identity for our project. 
URL http://www.synbim.co.uk/
 
Title Video: Green Manufacturing Project - Nanomaterials - University of Sheffield 
Description An impact related video to explain the project and its expected outcomes to a lay person. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact This video is published on the department's youtube channel and facebook - it has been viewed over a thousand times. People have provided very positive feedback about this video and that they can fully understand the project. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB-k8IUuDc0
 
Description In the first year of this project, we have performed a number of experimental demos for the public, in particular young pupils. We have also given a few presentations. The feedback has been very positive in terms of influencing public perception towards manufacturing, chemical engineering, bioinspiration, nanomaterials and sustainability.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Impact Types Societal

 
Description EPSRC Fellowship in Design and green manufacturing of functional nanomaterials
Amount £1,011,132 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R025983/1 
Organisation University of Sheffield 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 10/2023
 
Description Engineering for a Prosperous Nation
Amount £165,059 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R041822/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 07/2019
 
Description Industrial R&D
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 02/2018
 
Description Scottish enterprise
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Enterprise 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 08/2020
 
Description Adam Clare 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department Faculty of Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Introduction of green chemistry in the in-jet electrochemical processing of metals
Collaborator Contribution Significant improvements in the capability of electrochemical processing for surface engineering
Impact A.T CLARE, A SPEIDEL, J. MITCHELL-SMITH and S. PATWARDHAN, 2017. Electrolyte design for suspended particulates in electrolyte jet processing CIRP Annals.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration with Daniele Marchisio 
Organisation Polytechnic University of Turin
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The data obtained during this EPSRC project was shared with the collaborator in order to formalise next projects.
Collaborator Contribution Access to expertise on understanding mixing mechanisms in multiphase fluids and developing scale-up rule.
Impact Submission of an EPSRC fellowship and development of a publication.
Start Year 2017
 
Description IPDaC 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a commercial development work addressing TRL4 in order to make our technology more attractive for commercial update.
Collaborator Contribution IP development and commercialisation support.
Impact An internal confidential report.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Resonance circuits 
Organisation Resonant Media
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Will provide particles
Collaborator Contribution Will provide specifications of what particles are required for hyperthermia and then test our manufactured particles to see if they are better that other competitors
Impact Multidisciplinary: Medical, physics, chemistry, manufacturing, chemical engineering
Start Year 2015
 
Description Scottish enterprise project with a company 
Organisation Scottish Enterprise
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This is a commercial consultancy project to convert a certain waste to a valuable product. We are embarking on this project to perform the materials chemistry, scale-up and application testing work.
Collaborator Contribution Market and environmental legislation, connection with a supply chain and users. Access to waste samples.
Impact N/A
Start Year 2018
 
Description Art installation and workshop for Manchester sceince week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Commission to make a collaborative art installation with Artist Antony Knight and Nick Delore about magentic bacteria and nanomagnets for the Grand Exposition for the Manchester Science festival. This included video art and displays/sound scape and we also ran 3 workshops over the course of the day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/event/learning-nature-bio-inspired-nanomaterials/
 
Description Bespoke Green Nanomaterials: Discovery, Design, Applications and Manufacture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk to EPSRC Frontiers Engineering centre for Nature Inspired Engineering
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.natureinspiredengineering.org.uk/news/cnie-annual-advisory-board-meeting-and-conference
 
Description Bespoke Green Nanomaterials: Discovery, Design, Applications and Manufacture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation to the Sheffield Colloids Network
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Bespoke Green Nanomaterials: Discovery, Design, Applications and Manufacture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation University of Cincinnati
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description British Science Week-Science Day at Kelham Island 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Activity Workshops 100 pupils secondary change British Science week stimulating, hands-on, discussions, thought process
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Design of Experiments (DoE) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at Barry Azzopardi Summer School as part of the Multiphase Flow and Transport Processes Special Interest Group, UK Fluids Network
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://multiphasetransport.org/
 
Description Discovery Night (Sheffield, Mar 18) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the university's "open" day, we hosted a few activities on "bioinspired" inventions and a drawing competition for participants. Up to 100 people visited our stand and we gave prizes to 5 school pupils in the form of certificates and vouchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Green Nanomaterials (a lecture for 14 and 15 year old) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 40 pupils and 5 teachers attended an invited presentation (at Jnana Prabodhini Prashala, Pune, India), which sparked a lot of very deep questions from the pupils. The school is considering design of multidisciplinary activities in their teaching as a result of this presentation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Making Green Nanomaterials 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was the first scientific symposium that we organised focussing on the sustainability of producing nanomaterials. It engaged international audience, included panel discussions and it is leading to a special issue in the journal Current Opinions in Green and Sustainable Chemistry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://ep70.eventpilot.us/web/page.php?page=Session&project=ACS17GCEC&id=255334
 
Description Strictly Nano Dancing (Sheffield, 29 Sep 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A performance incorporating different styles of dance which bring to life research on the environmentally friendly manufacture of nanomaterials. Strictly Nano-Dancing ran as part of the Festival of Mind 2018, Sheffield.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://festivalofthemind.group.shef.ac.uk/strictly-nano-dancing/