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Advanced encapsulation technology for sustainable detergency

Final Report Summary - CAP-IT! (Advanced encapsulation technology for sustainable detergency)

The CAP-IT! project aimed tp develop a deep mechanistic understanding of coating and encapsulation processes to stabilize actives in fluid consumer goods in order to enable the:
- reduction of detergency materials used and therefore transportation costs which will reduce CO2 emissions
- reduction in packaging material
- energy reduction: more active chemistries will allow for the use of lower temperature cycles
- water reduction: more active chemistries will allow for shorter washing cycles and to overcome the disadvantages of traditional encapsulation processes, such as:

- diversity of actives: different properties:
1. hydrophilic versus hydrophobic nature
2. solid versus liquid at desired temperature
3. water soluble versus oil soluble
4. high MW versus low MW
5. very reactive versus lower reactivity

- Delivery of actives at different times:
1. delivery at application
2. fast/slow release
3. release after application

- Interactions active-wall material

- Perfect encapsulation required:
1. No leakage in the formula
2. Release in the appropriate moment

In order to achieve our objective, seven partners from two companies, three universities, and six European countries exchanged knowledge and personnel to achieve breakthroughs in the field of sustainable detergency.
The main achievements of the research program are:

1. screening and proof of concept of active-wall materials combinations, using high throughput screening we have been able to screen above 100 materials, assessing how efficient they are for fluid consumer goods applications and allowing us to understand which is the key properties materials need to have to be used for fluid consumer goods applications.

2. process development for particle production, using traditional and novel techniques such as micro-fluidics, which provide several proven advantages versus traditional techniques, such as monodispersion and a perfect core-shell encapsulation, however, these processes cannot be applied for all actives. We have determined which type of actives and which properties the shell material must have, in order to be able to use novel micro-fluidics techniques.

3. advanced characterization of particles, defining not only traditional parameters like particle size and particle size distribution, but also using combined instruments to assess the level of encapsulation, diffusion and core-shell ratio of the final capsule. Over 10 different characterization techniques have been applied to determine the amount of active that is forming part of the shell, the porosity or cross-linking level of the shell, the diffusion mechanisms through the shell… Moreover, new analytical methods have been developed to analyze the most complex actives.

4. determination of success criteria for each application in terms of stability and performance. Depending on the capsules properties or the active that such capsules contain, success criteria have been established and even additional applications have been found outside fluid consumer goods, transforming the process to encapsulate such actives into a global process cross-application.

5. creating an overall holistic model in order to predict properties and ensure the overall sustainability impact via a Life Cycle analysis. We started with some well-known processes to test our model, which has been gradually modified to meet the needs of our technology. The project combined academic knowledge regarding characterization, wall materials, theoretical understanding of encapsulation processes, and process modelling with industrial know-how on encapsulation techniques, process up-scaling, and industrial requirements. The project has a balanced mixture of secondments (112 months, 15 people) and new recruitments (108 months, 6 people), and of experience level of the personnel involved. The schedule of seconded visits and a special training and transfer of knowledge scheme are designed to match the work plan and to optimize synergies.

Collectively, the consortium has the appropriate combination of analysis and process equipment to perform the work plan. This project will lead to new insights among the participants in the field of encapsulation for compacted consumer goods. The possibility of further improving prototype capsules and particles after the conclusion of this project offers practical perspectives for long-lasting collaborations, benefiting the knowledge-based economy in Europe.