European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Intelligent Structuring Systems for Complex Flowing Products

Final Report Summary - ISSFLOW (Intelligent Structuring Systems for Complex Flowing Products)

ISSFLOW, Intelligent Structuring Systems for Complex Flowing Products, has developed fundamental understanding of complex fluids designing smart and functional gels and fluids via the development of novel rheology modifiers. A consortium of 5 partners (1 large industry, 1 SME and 3 academics) has exchanged knowledge in the areas of rheology, sustainable synthesis and scale-up of novel molecules, modelling, characterization of complex fluids (including high viscous fluids and gels) via scattering, NMR and microscopy techniques, and production of finished products in a broad number of applications ranging from detergents and pharmaceuticals to restoration of paintings and lubricants. The overall generated knowledge has led to the identification of several novel products forms that are currently being tested for their commercial potential with consumers taking into account the final rheology properties required, performance, process and aesthetics, and facilitating the potential launch of these improved or new products to the market.

During the last 4 years, the team has collaborated in order to identify novel rheology modifiers that enable superior complex fluids. Over 100 molecules have been synthesized and tested, from which 2 lead candidates have been chosen:
• modified macromolecules that are able to form gels in hydrophobic systems and provide additional properties to the system, especially physical stability to fine fragrances and beauty care formulations
• modified polymers that show high versatility among traditional formula ingredients but do not have the desired weight efficiency and therefore further optimization is required

Moreover, other traditional approaches have been explored, rheology modifiers that were known but were not available at industrial scale due to scalability issues. One lead material has been identified for which a feasible and affordable scale-up route has been determined. Such material, has been used in the preparation of diverse complex fluids in Home Care applications that are currently being evaluated for the improved characteristics by consumers. ISSFLOW team generated high level scientific but fundamental mechanistic understanding in order to formulate and process such material in a successful manner.
Additionally, sustainable polymeric systems with gelling and adhesives properties have been prepared ab initio starting from natural materials for their use in Home Care and Cultural Heritage applications.

While the design and synthesis of novel rheology modifiers is key, the development of methods and characterization tools to evaluate those rheology modifiers is equally important. With a special emphasis in rheology, the team has developed over 20 methodologies that allow the characterization of such rheology modifiers, from their chemical compatibility with other ingredients to their intrinsic properties depending on the source and process. Such methodologies have been and are being used not only for daily R&D activities, but also to define the specifications of rheology modifiers raw materials for large scale production and usage.

In terms of the industrial feasibility and scale up of such rheology modifiers, there are few areas in which the team has made significant progress:
a) scale-up of lead rheology modifiers: understanding the key challenges for each specific material has been fundamental for making the right choices;
b) exploration of flow chemistry as sustainable process for polymeric materials synthesis: experiments and feasibility studies show the high potential for this process and there will be further implementation and scale-up ongoing in the coming year;
c) formulation of rheology modifiers in desired products: each type of rheology modifier has its own properties, so rheology modifiers needed to be classified in clusters in order to develop processing strategies for each class.

Characterization and processing results have been used to generate some models, like for example, one of the models is able to predict with only one fast infrared measurement whether a natural-derived rheology modifier will be suitable for applications in complex fluids or not.

ISFFLOW project has delivered the objective put forward in the project proposal and has delivered beyond expectations opportunities for new technologies on consumer goods and new stand-alone consumer good products. While still prototypes are being tested with consumers, the team feels confident that some of these novel products will reach the market in the coming 2-5 years.
We are also very proud to see the cross-fertilization potential of the technologies in applications beyond fabric and home care, but as well in medicinal fields, cultural heritage, adhesives and lubrification products. This shows that the both the scientific outcome is generically applicable to many fields and this is very rare. But also, that the transfer of knowledge amongst the students, postdocs, supervisors, academic institutes, the SEM and the multinational company had a very high standard in this project because of the extreme planning in complementarity of the partners and the trust in the consortium.

Most of the postdocs being part of the ISSFLOW program have found very fast a new job in academic, SME or industry environment. Even 1 postdoc was hired by Procter and Gamble and 1 postdoc by Polymer Expert. The dissemination of the project results and project objectives was of high quality and impact to the general public due to social nature of the events organized.
All of the consortium members have setup bilateral or multilateral collaborations to continue the work since the ISSSFLOW project has finished which is a demonstration of both the impact of the science developed in the project as to the quality of the research as to the novel collaborative network that is resulting from the ISSFLOW project.

We see that for all the three types of institutes (multinational, SME, academic) are leveraging the know how developed in ISSFLOW to support the roll out of new products. P&G uses the science insights developed in the ISSFLOW for the roll out of several new product upgrades, Polymer Expert for a technology exploited in skin care, CSGI for commercialization of a culture heritage (restoration of paintings) technology and Leuven University is trying applications in the medicinal fields.

Project website address: