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How NanoCentral is a driving force behind the safe, beneficial and profitable commercialisation of nanomaterials

Nanomaterials are forecast to play an increasingly crucial role in market sectors as diverse as pharmaceuticals, plastics, inks, coatings and electronics. Their use offers enormous potential for new product innovation creating discernable differences. These will add value to brands, refresh products nearing the end of their life and create entirely new products to meet evolving needs. For manufacturers, nanomaterials can shorten the production process, save energy and raw materials and increase efficiency.

However, the true commercialisation of nanomaterials is being hampered by a number of issues, including the need to source a connected supply chain that covers all the process steps; concerns about health and safety; and a significant number of manufacturers unable to connect with the marketplace.

NanoCentral was set up in July 2006 to be the pivotal gateway for nanomaterials, enabling potential businesses looking to improve existing products and develop new products using nanomaterials to connect with a network of key technology providers. Our aim is simple, we want to accelerate the safe commercial use of nanomaterials through a co-ordinated and reliable supply chain, so businesses can maximise profits. Backed by the Technology Strategy Board, the Regional Development Agency, One NorthEast and the Centre for Process Innovation, Nano- Central is based in the traditional heart of the science and chemical sector on Teesside at the Wilton Centre.


As world-class experts in nanomaterials technology, we can help you to overcome problems that you may already be facing, or assist you in developing innovative bespoke solutions. NanoCentral can provide you access to expertise, leading-edge technologies and facilities from our extensive Alliance of Providers and help you find solutions to the issues you have identified. If you need a new technology to solve your problem, NanoCentral can introduce you to potential partners to add expertise and capability to the development process.

NanoCentral continually captures emerging technologies from a wide range of sectors and makes these available to you. A key advantage we offer is access to facilities to create and test these nanomaterial solutions in a cost-effective way. If you are excited by the potential of nanomaterials in products, but are unable to find the right supply chain, or are frustrated by the difficulties in developing new products and getting them to market, NanoCentral can help.

NanoCentral uniquely provides existing, potential manufacturers and users of nanomaterials single-point access to an integrated and comprehensive set of nano-related capabilities that encompass:

  • Development of underpinning science
  • Synthesis
  • Dispersion, functionalisation and formulation
  • Application development
  • Characterisation
  • Safety, health and environmental.

These services can be related to each other in what is known as the nanomaterials supply chain. For a nanomaterial to go from production to enduse, it typically progresses through the technology platforms listed below. Underpinning these technology platforms are characterisation and Safety, Health & Environment (SHE). The biggest barrier to commercialisation has been the fragmented nature of this supply chain. NanoCentral is now here to co-ordinate these activities and enable you to achieve success through nanomaterials.


Customers need access to a wide range of reasonably priced nanomaterials in quantities appropriate for feasibility and development programmes. These should be produced using a number of different processing techniques, thereby providing customers with a wide choice of material properties and characteristics. Open access to nanomaterial production processes will encourage customers, previously dissuaded by high risk and capital cost, to evaluate nanomaterials as part of their product offerings.

NanoCentral Alliance members providing nanomaterial synthesis are Johnson Matthey, through its flame spray pyrolysis; Intrinsiq Materials, which produces materials using Plasma synthesis; Hosokawa Micron, which offers various manufacturing routes, HARMAN Technology?s high shear precipitation methods; NanoGap, which offers nanomaterials manufactured via several wet chemical routes; Promethean Particles, which utilises super-critical fluid technology; and nanoLake, which offers an everincreasing range of materials in commercial quantities.


With the exception of a few specialised applications, nanomaterials need to be supplied in a stable form within a carrier compatible with forward processing steps. The inability of nanomaterial producers (particularly of smaller ones) to provide end-users with nanomaterials in a consistent, well-formulated and dispersed form has been a significant obstacle to commercialisation. We can help you overcome this barrier.

NanoCentral Alliance members providing dispersion, functionalisation and formulation services are the University of Liverpool, through its Ultra Mixing and Processing Facility, which was manufactured for them by Maelstrom APT (which also provides mixer/dispersion technology to the Alliance); Imerys Minerals, which provide processing and milling facilities over a wide range of scales; Netzsch Mastermix and Buhler Ltd; which both provide bead milling expertise. Fundamental to these is the dispersant technologies supplied by Lubrizol Advanced Materials.


Once nanomaterials have been dispersed and stabilised, they typically go through further processing such as extrusion, injection moulding, inkjet printing, spray coating, and so on. Nanomaterials behave differently in these applications, delivering different benefits and properties. Currently, there is a lack of open-access applications equipment to provide answers and characterise the material before and after processing. Equally important is to understand the impact of nanomaterials on applications equipment in terms of handling, flow, erosion and health and safety.

NanoCentral Alliance members providing applications development are Macdermid Autotype, which offer plastic film-coating facilities; multi-layer coating through HARMAN Technology; compounding, extrusion and Ceramic processing provided by Nanoforce; ink-jetting technology through Printed Electronics; compounding, extrusion and composites through Brunel University Wolfson Centre; polymer electrospinning through the Electrospinning Company; high-throughput screening through Ilika Technologies; and printing and ink formulation through Teknek.


The development of new nanomaterials in the UK is frustrated by difficulties in sourcing wellcharacterised raw materials supplied consistently to specification. The Network?s characterisation platform is designed to address this issue. Incremental development of the Network will involve linking this platform with other UK centres of expertise in metrology and characterisation in order to broaden its scope.

NanoCentral Alliance members providing characterisation services are Intertek Measurement Science Group; which offers particle characterisation services through SEM/TEM, X-ray and PCCS techniques as well as many other characterisation techniques; CEMMNT, the Centre of Excellence in Metrology for Micro and Nano Technologies, provides measurement, characterisation, analytical and systems engineering services; and the Smith & Nephew Technical Services Group, which offers a worldclass laboratory testing, prototype manufacture and consultancy service for the healthcare industry. Many of the Alliance Providers offer characterisations services in addition to their main service offer.


Despite science-fiction tales of self-replicating nano machines reducing the planet to grey goo, there is no widespread public concern about nanotechnology. However, media interest and pressure group attention is understandable and a necessary part of the governance of science. Public debate on the balance between risks and benefits needs to take place sooner rather than later. As yet, there is not enough data about the effects of all the available engineered nanomaterials on the human body and the environment.

NanoCentral is well placed to help ensure these uncertainties will be addressed urgently in a coherent, scientific way through our partnership with SAFENANO, which is operated by the Institute of Occupational Medicine and AssuredNano, and is being widely marketed by NanoCentral. It is the first nanomaterials Safety, Health & Environment (SHE) Accreditation Scheme featuring annual Compliance Auditing.

NanoCentral can help you as a technology provider or user to explore the unique opportunities that nanomaterials can offer. Get in touch with the team via the website or the contact details below.

For more information, contact:
NanoCentral at
The Centre for Process Innovation,
Wilton Centre, Wilton,
Redcar TS10 4RF
Stephen Cash, CEO
Tel: + 44 (0) 1642 442 463
Dr Allen Reid,
Business Development Director
Tel: + 44 (0) 1642 442 460
Dr Stephen Devine,
Operations Director
Tel: + 44 (0) 1642 442 464
Dr Dan Gooding,
Business Development Director
Tel: + 44 (0) 1223 437 067

Added the 26 August 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-1

Related elements :

Innovation UK Vol5-2
Driving the safe, beneficial and profitable commercialisation of nanomaterials

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