Creation and Exploitation of Pressurised Gyration to Manufacture Core-Sheath Structures:

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

Pressurised gyration processes, which are the focus of this grant application is an emerging technique that utilises centrifugal force and the dynamic fluid flow to jet out advanced functional materials consistently. This technique has shown great potential in overcoming the limitations of the existing techniques to manufacture functional materials and structures that can safely, consistently and cost-effectively be up-scaled. Thus in the past 5 years pressurised gyration, and several sister-processes (infusion gyration, melt pressurised gyration, pressure-coupled infusion gyration) have been developed and applied to prepare functional materials for different applications. The overall motivation of this research is to manufacture a wide variety of "core-sheath" structures, that are not fully exploited commercially in functional applications (e.g. healthcare) simply because of lack of innovative manufacturing. The overall aim of the project is to develop pressurised gyration as a novel means of effective manufacturing of multi-material core-sheath structures. Therefore, a very significant aspect of this project is to develop a pressurised gyration technique based on exploratory experimental evidence, to generate core-sheath structures on a large scale. A newly created exploratory device containing two chambers has been used to manufacture a wide range of polymer nanofibres with different polymers in both aqueous and non-aqueous solutions as core and sheath components at various concentrations, pressures and rotating speeds. In addition antibacterial metallic nanoparticles loaded nanofibres were also produced using this device. The manufacturing of core-sheath structure has been demonstrated by using a high speed camera and microscopy. Thus, the proposed research pays attention on developing a new high yield device for manufacturing layered core-sheath structures based on our existing preliminary device. Also a considerable effort will be devoted to analyse the new process to make quantitative assessment in order to understand the theoretical issues. It will focus on investigating the forming of core-sheath fibres and core-shell capsules from micro-nanoscale. Functionalising those core-sheath structures produced with additions of other, organic, inorganic and particulate materials will be an important feature. The processed core-sheath structures will be characterised with advanced tools to explore their unique physical, chemical and biological properties.

Planned Impact

We are partnered in this proposal by two very dedicated industrial partners Xiros Ltd and BASF. The former is interested in the fibre manufacturing and the latter in the polymeric materials which will be used. Both partners agreed to participation only after visits to us and subsequent careful perusal of the full proposal. We hope to develop a very industrially impactful project with these partners, and others, during this project.

The proposed work will enhance collaboration with clinicians, pharmacists and microbiologists. The awareness of the pressurised gyration concept extending to core-sheath gyration products and scope of the research work will be further disseminated through academics, industrialists and students in seminars, symposia and personal/UCL websites. The research is also expected to generate patents and more publications in high impact journals. Thus, there will be knowledge transfer within and outside the institution. This will also be achieved through delivering key lectures and talks. These will be supported by many workshops and a major workshop (for which funding is requested in this application) will be organised for industries, students and lectures/teachers in the related fields.

Economic & Societal Impact: The first group to benefit from this research includes academics and industrialists studying new technologies to manufacture core-sheath structures. The second group to benefit from this research are scientists who study novel functional materials, their properties and applications. The third group who will benefit from this research is children who are inspired to make a career in science, medicine and engineering. We will especially reach out to these people, seeding a phrase "I'm a scientist, get me out there" will certainly excite the young children to make discoveries by themselves.

Researcher training will be a key aspect. There are six research students currently working on pressurised gyration related projects in the Edirisinghe Laboratory. One of these has a specific EPSRC - DTP Industrial Strategy Allocation Award on pressurised gyration. In addition, about 12 MSc and UG taught students elect to do their research project in this area and win prizes for their work (e.g. the proposal construction was helped immensely by a prize-winning UG summer vacation project funded by EPSRC and also a MSc student has won the Cohen Award for a project on pressurised gyration in 2018). The researchers/students involved in such projects will benefit from being exposed to the developments in this research project happening at the interface between engineering, materials and life sciences.

Communication & Knowledge Transfer: The information gathered from the research will be disseminated at public engagement events including Science Open days for the general public and sixth form students who are interested in pursuing careers in Manufacturing, General Engineering and Materials. These events provide an opportunity for researchers to interact with public and communicate general scientific topics and their scientific work. The related work will also be communicated to the local schools by giving talks to inspire them to find new discoveries by themselves.

Public Engagement Event/Workshops will provide an opportunity for the public to be aware of current on-going research which will have an impact on future engineering and other functional applications as well as an opportunity for exchange of ideas between researchers, industrialists and the public. We will also involve clinicians in this via the contacts of our clinical co-I. With the permission of our industrial partners, we will strive to encourage participation to other industries, worldwide, across the spectrum of materials and manufacturing.

Publications

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