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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N024915/1
Title: Complex ORAL health products (CORAL): Characterisation, modelling and manufacturing challenges
Principal Investigator: Angeli, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Mazzei, Dr L Balabani, Dr S Wilson, Professor HJ
Tiwari, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Centre for Process Innovation Limited GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) Xaar Plc
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2016 Ends: 31 August 2020 Value (£): 1,945,935
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Food and Drink
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
19 Feb 2016 Future Formulation FULL Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Toothpastes - and especially specialised pharmaceutical toothpastes, whose major gel component is not water-based - have a surprisingly complex and ill-understood manufacturing process. There is the background fluid, which is already a mixture of a viscous liquid and a polymer; then solid particles are added. These are abrasive and do much of the tooth cleaning; but they also swell during processing, and the system becomes much thicker when they are added. Finally surfactant is added to help the toothpaste to foam in the mouth; and just to complicate matters further, air bubbles also creep in during processing.

In this project, we will systematically address all the stages of toothpaste processing. We will carry out precise small-scale rheological measurements to discover how the particles swell and how they interact once they have swollen: for example, do they absorb parts of the long polymer molecules to form a network, or do partly-absorbed polymers act as "brushes" to push swollen particles apart? We will also measure the overall behaviour of each stage of the system (the background fluid on its own, or with particles, or with bubbles) and create a phase map of system behaviour in terms of its composition. We will use advanced mathematical modelling techniques to derive new equations that can describe the behaviour of a mixture - for example, background fluid and swollen particles - as if it were a single material. Finally, we will use our new constitutive equations in computer simulations to predict the behaviour of the paste in a real processing environment, address the manufacturing challenges such novel formulations entail and propose new strategies to overcome these.

The research needs a team with many different specialist abilities, across experimentation, modelling and simulation, and also needs close ties with industry to ensure we are asking the right questions. GSK is a major collaborator on this project. The project is also supported by Xaar the leader in inkjet printing technology. With the understanding we generate, they hope to make their manufacturing processes both more efficient and more reliable and also develop new formulations to address future customer needs.

Key Findings
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