Scientists from Contipro have managed to significantly increase the efficiency of nanofibre production. Thanks to efforts to develop technology capable of producing nanofibres from materials which are hard to spin, a jet has been created which is two to seven times more productive, depending on the solution used.
Nanofibres form biopolymer
The exceptional properties of nanomaterials make them suited to use in many fields, from medicine to environmental applications. However, widespread use is hindered by the high price of nanomaterials compared with bulk materials. As a result, nanomaterials are used only where the benefits of their properties outweigh the price. This situation could soon be improved thanks to a new discovery by Contipro.
While the most common industrial method of nanofibre production relies on the formation of nanofibres from a polymer solely in a high electrostatic field, the patented needleless multi-jet also supports the formation of fibres by a heated air stream flowing around the jet. This makes it possible not only to obtain nanofibres, for example, from overly viscous solutions or solutions with a very high proportion of solvent, but also significantly increases jet productivity and cuts the cost of nanomaterial production.
“We originally intended to create a jet that would enable us to handle new types of materials for medicine. Soon, however, it became clear from laboratory comparisons that our method was much more efficient than the current most widespread nanofibre production method. Moreover, our solution allows for precisely controlled conditions around the jet, enabling us to achieve much stable parameters of nanofibres produced in longer-lasting processes. And because nanofibres are thousands of times finer than a human hair, I’m sure you can imagine that even a minor change is very important,“says associated professor Velebny from Contipro.
The new patented jet was developed as one of the modules for 4SPIN, the nanofibre production device launched by Contipro in Japan at the end of January 2013. This device is designed primarily for the laboratory upscaling of nanofibre production, and the needleless multi-jet is the most effective module of the four emitters supplied. Contipro makes no secret of the fact that a pilot version of the device has been designed in its laboratories, to be followed by a fully operational unit for the production of nanofibres. In this respect, numerous Contipro devices are intended to offer a comprehensive means of transferring the results of nanomaterial research from the laboratory to production practice and customers. This can be achieved by existing laboratory equipment with emitters ranging from a needle electrode to a needleless multi-jet, and by the upcoming pilot version and, especially, fully operational version of 4SPIN.
Another domain that sets the 4SPIN electrospinning equipment series apart from other devices on the market is the possibility of developing materials for medicine. Even during design, the possibility of placing the machine in cleanrooms and using it to process biopolymers was taken into consideration. Given Contipro’s 15 years’ experience of bionanotechnologies, this is hardly surprising.