The diminutive Micropore CXF-1 is an innovative new design of in-line mixer, capable of continuously manufacturing the high quality product emulsions required by today’s food and cosmetic brands in place of traditional industrial homogenisers.
Micropore’s patented encapsulation technology originated in the department of chemical engineering at Loughborough University. The principal inventor, Richard Holdich, is the Professor of Chemical Engineering and Head of Department. Professor Holdich has published many papers in the field, and is author of a book on Particle Technology. Micropore Technologies Limited was established over ten years ago as a high-technology spin-out of Loughborough University and is a solutions provider commercialising products and technology based on its patented encapsulation and emulsification processes.
"India represents an important and growing market for Micropore" says Dai Hayward of Micropore Technologies. "At India Pharma Expo 2018, we once again received a warm welcome from the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries in the region with particular interest in our new high throughput AXF-1 crossflow membrane emulsification unit. The manufacturers I talked to were surprised and delighted that Micropore has finally been able to upscale membrane emulsification up to a serious 1,500 tonnes/year industrial scale capability".
Micropore's new, potentially game-changing industrial technology, has been recognised with the 2018 award for innovation at the 12th Annual NEPIC Industry Awards
Although the body of the Micropore AXP-1 crossflow membrane emulsification unit is less than 12 inches long it is capable of producing product emulsions at quality and quantity (well over 1,000 tonnes/year of product) that simply hasn’t been possible to achieve previously via the traditional homogenisers used in manufacturing products from mayonnaise to hand creams.
The uniqueness of Micropore’s technology is its potential for creating emulsions featuring highly uniform droplet sizes. For product emulsions, (combinations of substances) this creates an inherently more stable product and better quality product. Less unwanted additives are required in the process, reducing raw material costs and, because the mixing process is gentler for the ingredients, sensitive substances can be processed without damage – significantly reducing wastage.
At first glance the precision-engineered tubular Micropore AXF-1 device is deceptively simple, featuring no moving parts. The substance to be dispersed in the emulsion is pumped through the membrane tube, passing through the laser drilled micro pores whilst the continuous phase substance flows around the tube providing the shear force necessary to deform and detach the droplets as they form through the membrane. It is the precise size and distribution of the pores in the membrane that enables the production of droplets of a highly uniform size. Adjusting the flow rates of each substance allows different droplet sizes to be created.
The Micropore AXF-1 is the final piece of the jigsaw in Micropore’s product line-up and removes the last barrier to scale-up to mass manufacturing.
Emulsions produced through the Micropore system can also be turned into microcapsules for a variety of products where highly uniform capsule sizes is equally desirable to ensure a consistency of product delivery.
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Micropore were delighted to be awarded first prize for their poster presentation at the SCI's Formulation Group’s inaugural 2-day workshop event in London 17-18 January 2018, visually demonstrating the industrial scale-up the company has managed to achieve with their membrane emulsification technology.
“We thoroughly enjoyed exhibiting at ‘Food matters Live’ for the first time. It was an opportunity to formally launch the ‘Micropore AXF’" says Business Development Manager Dave Palmer. He continues: "This new aseptic cross flow device is capable of producing large volumes of high quality emulsions suitable for the food and pharma industries. We met a large number of potential clients and had a lot interesting discussions on how our technology can allow improved manufacture or novel delivery systems in the food and beverage industries.”
Food Matters Live 2017 highlights video
Technology exists to avoid damaging our oceans by using a biodegradable alternative to plastic microbeads
Micropore's unique technology, could allow the mass production of sustainable biodegradable microbeads to replace the harmful plastic beads that Sir David Attenborough says are poisoning Earth’s oceans.
The BBC Blue Planet II series is drawing public attention to the ecologically damaging plastic microbeads added to personal care and cleaning products that are now posing an extinction-level threat to birds, fish and other marine life when they end up in rivers and oceans.
As a result of recent campaigning by environmental groups, countries around the world are now taking action against micro plastics and personal care products containing microbeads are being taken off the shelves. However, earlier this year, a research team from the University of Bath announced the development of a process for the production of a biodegradable renewable alternative to plastic microbeads.
Micro engineered capsules of wax are enabling the construction of buildings that automatically self-regulate their own temperature
A unique technology for producing highly uniform micro capsules developed by Micropore Technologies will enable the production of efficient new smart construction materials with what are described as ‘phase-change’ properties. When incorporated into walling or roofing, phase change materials or PCMs, as they are known, automatically respond to the extremes of temperature absorbing heat when the ambient temperature rises and emitting it back out when the surrounding temperature begins to fall.
So in the northern hemisphere the energy from daytime winter sunshine, for example, can be inexpensively captured and used to moderate much colder night time temperatures and vice versa in the southern hemisphere, where PCMs can harness cooler night time temperatures to moderate high daytime conditions.
PCMs work by incorporating microscopically small capsules of a waxy substance into wall or ceiling boards that are typically made from concrete or gypsum. These micro capsules, within the wall structure, melt when the temperature rises beyond a determined level, absorbing heat. When the temperature begins to cool, the material solidifies again emitting the latent stored heat. Testing has demonstrated that this melting and re-solidifying process can be repeated many, many thousands of times with an expected life expectancy of 30 years or more. Thus PCMs can offer significant long term savings in the energy used for climate control, with an attractive two year return on investment and the possibility of achieving a significantly reduction on the building’s environmental footprint.
This is where Micropore’s unique technology, which is able to offer a proven microencapsulation technology capable of delivering highly uniform micro capsules comes in.
“The creation of monodispersed PCM’s can provide superior performance, when compared to PCM’s made via traditional homogenisation methods.” Said David Palmer, Micropore’s Business Development Manager, “as the particles are all exactly the same size, they provide a more consistent response and easier post-processing.”
There is significant lack of consumer understanding of the SPF (sun protection factor) in sun screen products on the market and even less appreciation that some products provide protection at the price of unnecessarily exposing the user to potentially harmful chemical hazards. A risk which can be reduced through the use of products manufactured using micro encapsulation technology.
The SPF of sun screen products is a measure of how well they will protect skin from the harmful UVA and UVB radiation that causes sunburn and can contribute to skin cancer. Most consumers assume that the SPF factors on sun screen products are relative – so for example, using a product offering an SPF of 75 is prudent because it will reduce the risk of harm by providing more than twice the protection against damaging UV rays as a product with an SPF of 30. However counter-intuitively it is not necessarily the case that high SPF will automatically reduce risk.
This is because the SPF scale is not linear. It is actually an indicator of the number of harmful photons that will be blocked from reaching your skin. In fact sun screen products with an SPF 15 have been formulated to block 93% of UV rays; products with an SPF of 30 to block 97% of UV rays; and products with an SPF of 50 to block 98% of UV rays. So a really high SPF product may not actually give significantly greater protection than products with an SPF of 30.
A critical consideration should be that, according to dermatologists, the type and concentration of screening chemicals within higher SPF products may actually in themselves have the potential for harm.
Skin experts are becoming increasingly concerned about exposure to high concentrations of ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, 4-methylbenzilidene camphor and octinoxate that are used in sunscreen products to achieve their SPF rating. These chemicals can degrade on the skin and create free radicals that can causes premature ageing; be hormone disruptors or may even impact on the reproductive system and thyroid gland.
“Whilst different ingredients may each provide a degree of useful protection, encapsulation can significantly reduce any chemical risk by keeping substances away from the skin; encapsulation can also prevent interactions between different chemicals that do not combine well together (so you can actually reduce the overall concentration needed to achieve the SPF required); and it can achieve a slow release of active ingredients to prolong the effectiveness of products in use” says Professor Richard Holdich, Head of Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University and inventor of Micropore's microencapsulation technology.
So rather than automatically opting for an ultra-high SPF factor product, it actually makes sense to use a product that uses microencapsulation to minimise their chemical content. Most dermatologists recommend using a SPF 15 or SPF 30 sunscreen and all are in agreement that sun screen products are by no means all created equal when it comes to protection of the user. Microencapsulated products have the potential to offer maximum protection with minimum exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.