New biodegradable microbeads made from materials naturally found in plants, algae, and shellfish will replace polluting plastic particles found in cosmetics.

We are combining a knowledge of materials processing using ionic liquids, production of nanoparticles and derivatization of particle surfaces with the use of renewable non-food biopolymers, such as plant cellulose (the most readily renewed biopolymer), to produce more sustainable rheology modifiers, emulsion stabilisers, microbeads and other formulation ingredients. Exploration of the fundamental mechanisms of dissolution, the development of structure and particle interactions allows us to understand the materials and so refine these for specific applications.

This has led to development of materials with various industrial partners on topics as diverse as recovery of precious metals from industrial waste streams to production of “natural” and biodegradable ingredients for fast moving consumer goods – collaborative research projects funded by Innovate UK and the EPSRC in the Manufacturing the Future and IB Catalyst programmes.

“Public concern about plastic microbead pollution has led to bans, but many other materials used in ‘washaway’, or single use, products are not sustainable either. Developing manufacturing processes and products together and underpinning this with a deep understanding of the science leads to new ingredients that our industrial partners are keen to exploit commercially.”
Professor Janet Scott


Key Research Papers

Soft Matter, 2018, 14, 255
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2017, 19, 17805
ACS Sustainable Chem. & Eng., 2017, 5, 5931
ACS Sustainable Chem. & Eng., 2016, 4, 6200
Int. J. Pharm., 2016, 514, 238
Green Chem., 2014, 16, 3322
Green Chem., 2012, 14, 300
Chem. Commun., 2011, 47, 2970


CSCT students involved

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