30 Nov 2017
As SCI prepares to launch the Formulation Forum in the new year, two more major announcements in UK formulation science point to an exciting new era for this crucial discipline.
The first comes from UK-based speciality chemicals multinational Croda, which has announced the opening of its new Centre of Innovation for Formulation of Science at the University of Liverpool’s Materials Innovation Factory (MIF).
Croda said that investment in a permanent laboratory facility at the MIF will enable the company to further enhance its formulation science knowledge and capability across all market sectors through the use of state-of-the-art automated technologies.
These added capabilities will allow Croda to gain a more detailed understanding of ingredient interactions, actives delivery and optimised formulation development, through design of experiments, faster robotic formulating platforms, high-throughput analytical testing and advanced data analysis. It will also allow Croda to better exploit the functionality of existing and new products in a wider range of formulation systems, giving their customers greater choice of innovative formulations.
Dr Surinder Chahal, Global Vice President Long Term Innovation for Personal Care at Croda said: ‘This is a hugely exciting time for us – access to the cutting-edge capability at the MIF will allow us to further enhance our reputation in innovative formulation by adopting high-throughput technologies and computer aided materials science to fully realise the potential of our existing and future products, as well as enabling us to develop new ways to meet consumer needs in fast-moving marketplaces.’
The MIF is a unique facility that has been supported through a public/private partnership between the University of Liverpool, Unilever, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, as part of the UK Government’s Research Partnership Investment Fund.
CPI developing liquid formulation capacity
The other key news comes from the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), which has announced that it is working with leading academics to develop a novel research infrastructure to assist the UK formulation industry in the scale-up and manufacture of formulated liquid products.
The new facility will be housed at CPI’s National Formulation Centre in Sedgefield, UK and will be available to SMEs and larger corporates active in the UK’s formulation industry on an open-access basis.
Formulated products comprise a large number of component ingredients – not only ‘actives’ to deliver benefits, but also many other components required to deliver desired texture and shelf life. Shampoo, face cream, printing inks, paints, catalyst wash coats and yoghurt are examples of formulated liquid products that are ‘soft matter’, neither classical liquids nor hard solids, requiring carefully controlled addition and mixing during manufacture.
Developments in the industry knowledge of product physics and process engineering has evolved, allowing companies to create more optimised and controlled manufacturing processes. Implementing this, however, is problematic as for many companies their capital assets are at full capacity and current pressures on research budgets mean the required capital investment for a test facility cannot be justified, as investment tends to be focused primarily in product, rather than process, innovation.
The project partners aim to address these issues by providing a learning test bed, enabling users to learn quickly and efficiently across scales, and ultimately enabling manufacturing processes that deliver product attributes which are scalable, sustainable and economical.
The project is a collaboration between CPI and the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh, each providing world-class research expertise in their particular fields. The University of Birmingham Chemical Engineering department has a focus on formulation engineering and Professor Peter Fryer will lead on commissioning and process characterisation, working with industry-relevant model formulations developed and provided by Professor Wilson Poon’s group at The University of Edinburgh, enabling closer to ‘real-world’ studies.
The University of Leeds will provide state-of-the-art knowledge in the areas of sensors, process analytics and design of experiments and will focus on developing the required data fusion and control elements of the project.