Fluid dispersed systems, such as emulsions and foams are widely used in the food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, ink or paints industries, and wherever else it may be desirable to encapsulate one fluid within another, immiscible fluid. Some fluid dispersed systems are more difficult to prepare than others. In particular, oil-in-air and air-in-oil materials are much more challenging to prepare than water-based fluid dispersed systems (foams and dry water). However, researchers have developed a method of producing these materials.
Using micron-size particles of low molecular weight oligomer of tetrafluoroethylene (OTFE), it is possible to produce an oil-in-air material which resembles a fine dry powder whilst still being composed of oil. The droplet sizes are of the order of tens to hundreds of micrometres in diameter. The droplets do not wet surfaces, until the adsorbed OTFE layer is disturbed by shear forces. The oil in question may be alkanes, aliphatic alcohols, aromatic hydrocarbons, esters, ethers, silicone oil or other liquids. This material has been termed ‘dry oil’.
Alternatively, one can use the method to produce non-aqueous foams (i.e. air-in-oil material). This can be used to manufacture porous material, by producing foams of polymerisable oils (allyl acrylate, styrene etc.) containing initiators, followed by a polymerization stage.
This technology will have a wide range of applications but would be particularly useful in the porous foam manufacturing industry, or where the residual OTFE will also be of benefit, such as in the coatings and lubricant industries.
This technique also provides opportunities for novel delivery mechanisms and novel manufacturing methods of a range of products. For instance, the method could be used to develop ‘dry wet wipes’ or cosmetics which do not feel wet before use and have a much longer shelf-life.
A patent has been filed. Owner is seeking partners who would be interested in development and/or licensing opportunities.
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