New major project on nanomaterials

Recently, it was announced that a consortium, led by Dr Siddharth Patwardhan of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and containing Dr Sarah Staniland of our department, was awarded a £1.9 million collaborative project ‘Enabling manufacturing of Functional Nanomaterials using SynBio’ by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC). Other universities involved in the project are the universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde.

This new project will adopt a synthetic biology (SynBio) approach by harnessing biological principles to design advanced nanomaterials leading to novel manufacturing methods. In particular, SynBio will be used to make both Silica and Magnetic nanoparticles. Both nanomaterials are made in nature by diatoms and magnetic bacteria, respectively. However, although biological methods for nanomaterials synthesis are effective in reducing environmental burden, they are expensive, inefficient and/or currently not scalable to industrial production. In this new project they will research developing SynBio additions to standard synthetic methods to allow for scale up of the process in collaboration with computational modellers and scale-up engineers.

This is important, since such an approach will lead to the development of green production methods for nanomaterials which can allow greater control over materials properties, yet require less energy, produce less waste and are cost-effective. In particular, the SynBio process can reduce the manufacturing carbon footprint by 90%, thus providing a significant cost benefit to industry, while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions.

For more details, please see the interview with dr. Staniland below.