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Stimuli-responsive Membranes for consumer goods sustainability

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARTMEM (Stimuli-responsive Membranes for consumer goods sustainability)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2018-03-31

This overarching project addresses the current products limitations linked to membrane and encapsulating technologies, which can range from products made for Air Fresheners, Laundry detergents, Dish detergents and/or any consumer product that features a perfume delivery function. Some technologies could even be reapplied to include medical or even agricultural applications. These products often have a limited lifetime or efficiency due to the limitations of the main chemical technology or of ingredients compatibility. For example, many water-soluble membranes are permeable to their environmental conditions, limiting their benefits/use in hot & humid regions, e.g. drug delivery systems. Other products have a limited range of fragrance because of the poor compatibility with their encapsulating membranes.
Hence there is an opportunity to create more stable, more efficient products for the consumers to reduce cost and waste created by increasing the lifetime of products.
The objective of Smartmem has been to create smart membranes, exhibiting new/improved benefits, more suitable and tuned to the consumer needs, whether it comes in the shape of a perfumed capsule or a water soluble container.
The work progress can be classified in 3 main areas for this first half of the project:
- The selection of lead candidates/chemicals via thorough literature and prior art search to only retain truly inventive options.
- The development of relevant test methods to screen and aid in the final materials selection.
- The synthesis and/or blending, processing and characterization of the material
During this time, the fellows have learned about the different ways of researching existing technologies/applications, and as well about the technologies themselves. Method development is also an important step in any application demonstration, as it is often required in specific consumer applications, which cannot always rely on first order models/pure theory only. The fellows have also further developed their synthesis skills and their film/capsules forming knowledge and experience, leveraging their university environment as CTQC / URV as they are recognized for their expertise in membrane field.
Finally, there has been a lot of efforts and progress made in terms of chemical & membrane characterization, e.g. standard Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Fourier Transform - InfraRed (FT-IR) for substance identification, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Dynamic Vapor Sorption (DVS) and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) for material characterization and finally Stress-strain curves for mechanical properties.
During the next phase, the fellows will be seconded to the industrial partner and therefore focus on demonstrating the potential of such technologies in their relevant consumer applications. On-going, the identified technologies will be further developed and tested in actual application, relevant to specific consumer products. These early prototypes will then be tested in relevant environment and assessed for additional/improved benefits, according to test methods established by the Industry. In addition, this will be a great learning opportunity for fellows to evolve in an actual professional environment, as this will likely increase their employability opportunities, while growing European Innovation.
There are 2 web pages available to follow Smartmem project:
1. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/smartmemMSCA/ where the fellows post their experiences as MSCA fellows
2. Researchgate project: https://www.researchgate.net/project/Smartmem where project results are summarized (presentations, posters, papers...)
Preparation and characterization of membranes