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UCL researchers Professor Mohan Edirisinghe, Professor Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam and Dr Sunthar Mahalingam have been awarded £300k by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as a part of EPSRC Manufacturing The Future. The new grant is earmarked to develop a novel process to manufacture layered fibres and capsules.
The research project, which brings together Edirisinghe’s expertise in biomaterials processing with the clinical expertise of Homer-Vanniasinkam (UCL Professor of Surgery and Engineering), has a range of potential applications, notably in the healthcare sector. The project is also supported by industrial partners BASF and Xiros Ltd.
Professor Edirisinghe said, “Getting more funding from EPSRC Manufacturing The Future is quite special. This technique has great potential for medical, but also many other industrial applications where functionality of the products hold the key”.
The manufacture of layered fibres or capsules combines sheaths of materials with different properties into layers to enable new, advanced functionality. One example from the clinical sphere is using a strong core and a soft surface to which drugs are attached, to produce capsules for more efficient drug delivery.
The manufacturing process at the heart of the new project will use the pressurised gyration techniques developed at UCL, where a pressurised spinning pot with numerous orifices delivers a high yield of targeted product. The first such technique was invented in 2013 and has grown to encompass many other sister-processes.
The technique was recently reviewed in an invited front-cover feature paper in Macromolecular Materials and Engineering by a UCL Mechanical Engineering team formed of PhD students Phoebe Helestine and Jubair Ahmed with their supervisor Edirisinghe, who heads the department’s Biomaterials Processing Lab. The paper has been selected from over a thousand to feature in the Best of Macros 2019 issue.
This “Manufacturing The Future” grant is Professor Edirisinghe’s 43rd EPSRC grant, following on from grants in 2014 (application in Pharmaceutical industries) and 2016 (for antimicrobial filter making). It brings the EPSRC funding for gyratory manufacturing research to Edirisinghe, Mahalingam and co-workers to over £1.5 million pounds.
Edirisinghe said, “Winning 43 EPSRC grants has been a really satisfying feature of my research and I am deeply grateful to UCL and UCL Mechanical Engineering in particular for providing me the freedom to explore my adventurous ideas”.
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