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Pre-commercial lines for production of surface nanostructured antimicrobial and anti-biofilm textiles, medical devices and water treatment membranes

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PROTECT (Pre-commercial lines for production of surface nanostructured antimicrobial and anti-biofilm textiles, medical devices and water treatment membranes)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

PROTECT aims to up-scale one-step sonochemical coating processes for antimicrobial and anti-biofilm nano-enabled products including, without being limited to: i) upholstery fabrics for public areas, ii) medical textiles, iii) indwelling medical devices, and iv) water treatment membranes. To this end, PROTECT will build a versatile platform of three pre-commercial manufacturing lines offering antimicrobial, anti-biofilm and biocompatible coating solutions specifically suited to each application area, manufacturer and end user. These pilot lines are based on the following technologies: i) continuous sonochemical coating, ii) continuous spray coating, and iii) batch mode sonochemical coating.
PROTECT objectives:
• Pre-commercial coating lines with optimized productivity and cost effectiveness. Output: Reduced water and energy consumption by ~70%, increased coating capacity by 40%, lower by at least 30% whole sale price compared to existing products, e.g. antibacterial textiles.
• Products with increased antimicrobial and anti-biofilm efficiency coupled to improved biocompatibility. Output: Full bacteria kill, ≥90% bio-film inhibition, and ≥90% bio-compatibility.
• In situ monitoring, control and automation for nano-enabled processes and products. Output: Compliance with industrial standards of reproducibility and robustness of the piloted processes, and the antimicrobial/anti-biofilm performance of the final products.
• Health safety evaluation of the novel processes/products relevant for workers and end users. Output: Analysis using decision support systems and novel statistical techniques for health safety and biocompatibility.
• Demonstration of manufacturing of the end products in relevant industrial environment. Output: Demonstration of continuous and batch coating processes for manufacturing of antimicrobial textiles, and anti-biofilm medical devices and water treatment membranes.
• Definition of roadmaps to full-scale manufacturing and industrial integration of the coating lines, considering standards and regulatory issues. Output: Business plans including standardisation, regulatory issues, user acceptance, health, safety and environment aspects and life cycle and cost analysis
The core of the project PROTECT is the manufacturing of the coating lines. Towards this objective, 3 pilot lines were designed produced and installed three different end users : two pilots for continuous coating employing ultrasound in two different designs – ultrasonic transducers and ultrasound spray nozzles, and the batch sonochemical equipment, were optimized in terms of reaction parameters and machine design.
Homogeneous antibacterial and antibiofilm coating on hospital textiles, medical devices and water filtration membranes was achieved from water-based solution of nanoparticles or nanoparticle precursors. Using water instead of solvents, process temperature up to 60ºC, and low reagent concentration are key prerequisites for sustainable industrial processes. The results obtained in the optimization experiments conducted on the pre-existing pilots laid down the requirements for the final machine design. The pre-commercial coating lines were designed with industrial capacity for treating fabrics, membranes and medical devices, and will be installed at the manufacturing premises of partners KLO, MAR and DEG on M24.
Critical process parameters and critical quality attributes were identified to obtain a causal understanding of the pilots and to develop a control system, based on molecular information from in-line spectroscopy and process data. The “design space” within which the processes should be operated, monitored and controlled was defined. For each pilot, a control and command system were designed together with the electric wiring and PC housing. The system includes a Human Machine Interface to allow the operator to view or change the current state of a process.
Customized antimicrobial nanoparticles for continuous and non-continuous batch coating processes were developed. Metal oxides, doped metal oxides, carbon dots, polymer, lipid and enzyme nanoparticles form the PROTECT pallet of innovative and efficient antimicrobial alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Following a safe by design approach, it was possible to produce antibacterial nanoparticles and coated materials with enhanced antibacterial activity and reduced toxicity toward human cells. Nanoparticle sensing probes were embedded on medical textiles as indicators of the presence of living microorganisms.
Potential environmental and health risks in the production of NP-coated antibacterial materials were identified and considered in the design of the pre-commercial pilot lines. The techniques for monitoring NPs in the environment, the biological models and toxicity assays, and the tests for potential occurrence of bacterial resistance to the newly developed antimicrobial products, were defined. Criteria for estimating different categories of risk related to hazard and exposure to NPs were adopted for each pilot, and actions to minimize the risk were proposed. Preliminary results suggested negligible inhalation exposure to NPs at the workplace during the sonochemical coating processes.
The assessment methodology for the environmental sustainability and cost effectiveness was defined for all the processing techniques and for the relative targeted applications. The reference unit for environmental and economic sustainability as well as the scope of the life cycle assessment and life cycle costing were defined. The antibacterial index will be used to evaluate the environmental and economic key performance indicators.
The following manufacturing advances will ensure a high potential for market penetration of the nano-enabling technologies and products developed in PROTECT:
- Versatile ultrasound-based coating processes adaptable for any active agent, coated material and product shape.
- A single step nano-functionalization with novel efficient nano-antimicrobials
- Integrated real-time monitoring tools for nanotechnology-based processes and products.
- Ease of integration of the new technologies in existing manufacturing facilities and low manufacturing costs
The manufacturing of high quality, low cost functional products, responding to the needs of the global market for hospital textiles, medical devices and water treatment membranes will strengthen the European competitiveness and promote the industrial growth. The expected prevention of bacterial contamination and transmission using PROTECT antimicrobial products will considerably reduce the negative infection-related economic and social impacts. Being close to industrialization, PROTECT will have a strong impact on employment, requiring new professionals in nanomaterials, functional textiles and polymers, coating technologies, automation and monitoring, process/product safety analysis and marketing. PROTECT will bridge the gap between the technology validation and implementation. LCC and environmental impact assessment will be continuously monitored in parallel for optimum performance, price and sustainability.
PROTECT project layout