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Bioinicia participated in the Rethinking Agriculture Conference

Electrospraying for encapsulationLast 25th May it took place in Madrid the Conference Rethinking Agriculture organized by the Embassy of Holland in Spain.

Bioinicia was one of the companies invited to act as speaker in one of the round tables of this event.

The aim of the conference was to remark the importance of agriculture and the food industry in two countries as Holland and Spain where these sectors are very strong and important for their economies. And particularly, to highlight the role of technology as a key factor to develop such sectors and make them more competitive. Indeed, the conference was specially addressed to innovative start-ups rather than consolidated companies, although the audience came from different type of companies in terms of size, innovation and niches within the agrotech field.

Several topics were discussed at the conference, from the main challenges of food during the next 30 years to the role of technology in solving such challenges, including the expected super-population in the world by 2050.

Apart from participating actively in the discussion of some of those topics, Bioinicia talked about electro-hydrodynamics techniques and how micro and nano encapsulation at room temperature of many different ingredients can be done; for example, the so well-known Omega 3 encapsulation, or even probiotics encapsulation. These are two interesting cases since both materials are more and more used every time in functional food and nutraceuticals. The experience of Bioinicia with encapsulation of these and other materials resulted of great interest for the audience.

It was clear that electrospinning and electrospraying are methods with quite a few applications in technology of food, which are destined to replace in some cases other alternative methods such as lyofilization because of the benefits on encapsulation, including a better and more sustainable energetic balance.

Bioinicia to present its own DHA encapsulation method at AOCS 2017

Bioinicia presented its DHA encapsulation method at AOCS 2017

Bioinicia was invited to attend the AOCS Annual Meeting 2017 which took place in Orlando (USA) from 30th April to 3rd May. AOCS is an international business forum focused on fats, oils, lipids and other related materials. The main industries within these fields worldwide were present at this event.

Some industrial companies were particularly interested in Bioinicia’s own method for encapsulation of DHA – Omega 3 oil (as well as encapsulation of other natural essences and materials) at room temperature. This method is already available for potential interested customers. Furthermore, one of the benefits of Bioincia’s method is that it has been already scaled up to produce industrial volumes with high productivity ratio (much more than standard electrospraying). That’s the reason for some of those companies to encourage Bioinicia to participate in AOCS Annual Meeting.

Bioinicia made the presentation called “High-throughput electro-hydrodynamic processing for the encapsulation of DHA enriched oils”.

The attendees could know some insights of the new method developed by Bioinicia for encapsulation and the differences and benefits this method provides compared to other methods. Indeed, Bioinicia is shortly making an in-house industrial setup for encapsulation which will serve also as a demonstrator for potential customers. It seems that the interest of the audience in Bioinicia’s talk was strong, provided the number of people who was in touch to the Bioinicia’s team attending the event after the presentation.

Bioinicia had also a booth at the Paquin Campus of AOCS in order to communicate in a more powerful way its new method for encapsulation. Some meetings were held there and numerous visits shown their interest in this new industrial method.

It was first time that Bioinicia was participating at AOCS and the impressions were quite positive. The coming months will serve to verify whether or not our impressions are correct.

The importance of having (a good) AC unit for electrospinning process

The importance of having (a good) AC unit for electrospinning process

The importance of having (a good) AC unit

One question we are frequently asked is “how critical is it to have an air conditioned electrospinning/electrospraying machine for obtaining good results and controlling the process?”

Well, we always give the same response: it depends on what your goals are!Electrospinning machine with AC unit

It is clear that temperature and relative humidity are important parameters in the electrospinning process, as they affect the evaporation of solvent from the spinning jet and therefore the morphology of the resulting materials. Depending on where your machine will be, the ambient temperature and relative humidity can vary wildly, so, controlling these parameters by using an air conditioning unit will provide much tighter control of the electrospinning process.

If your goals are only to carry out proof-of-concept and feasibility studies at a basic lab-scale, an air conditioning unit may not be strictly necessary for you. You will be able to investigate the electrospinning or electrospraying of various materials, develop your own solution recipes and generate micro/nano fibers and particles for membranes, coatings, powders, encapsulation etc. However, you will not be able to ensure reproducibility of your experiments from one day/month to the next, and might struggle to obtain optimum results e.g. uniform morphology, from certain materials that are more sensitive to ambient conditions, such as high humidity.

If your goals are more focused towards industry, to carry out R&D with a view to developing and commercialising real products, then I strongly recommend that you consider controlling the temperature and relative humidity within the experimental chamber of your electrospinning machine, to ensure that you will be able to replicate your findings throughout the development and scale-up of the product. Furthermore, if your machine is a pilot-production plant for increased-throughput requirements (such as our Fluidnatek® LE-500 machine), which suggests that you intend to scale-up and manufacture small batches of material up to pre-industrial scale, an air conditioning unit becomes even more essential.

I titled this post “the importance of having (a good) AC unit”… This is critical! On the basis of our experience at Bioinicia, designing an accurate and robust air conditioning unit, which will work with the demands of the electrospinning process, such as continuous extraction of solvent vapour, is not an easy task! You will find several examples of systems that do not effectively meet these basic demands! It took many hours of design and engineering, working with experts in the field of air conditioning, and several iterations to achieve the excellent performance of the AC unit that we offer today. Reaching the desired temperature and relative humidity within a reasonable time, and keeping these conditions stable throughout extended processing runs, whilst at the same time extracting solvent vapours continuously, are key performance features necessary for achieving good control of the process. Bioinicia’s Fluidnatek® AC units deliver these features as well as many others, including cleanroom compatibility, to ensure they meet the requirements of your process.

Should you have any question in this regard or anything about the electrospinning process, at Bioinicia we will be delighted of speaking to you.

Electrospinning & Electrospraying Highlights at NANOTEC 2016

Electrospinning & Electrospraying Highlights at NANOTEC 2016

There was definitely something different in NANOTEC 2016, further to the relevance of the electrospinning technology: it was asked the speakers to focus their presentations in problem solving and the benefits provided to the corresponding applications from a very practical point of view, rather than making a more academic approach.

And for sure it was a wise decision of the Organizing Committee, since no few industrial companies attended the event.

There were many interesting topics, we are just going to show some highlights related to electrospinning & electrospraying technologies for different fields and applications which were discussed at NANOTEC:

Dr. Jed Johnson, from the industrial company NFS (USA), talked about Enabling Regenerative Medicine. They are strongly involved with electrospinning. NFS develops and markets nanofiber scaffolds for cell culture and drug development applications using standard-sized multiwell plates, in addition to nanofiber scaffolds for medical devices that are used as artificial organs and to enable regenerative medicine.  They believe that by combining the advantages of 2-D and 3-D cell culture with a nanofiber scaffold that not only mimics the extracellular matrix found in vivo but has successfully been implanted into humans, is future of cell culture products.  Their nanofiber scaffolds use synthetic polymers rather than animal derived products to increase reproducibility, facilitate clinical and in vivo applications, and provide for live cell imaging.  They can also align the nanofibers to mimic specific human environments (i.e. brain or cardiac tissue) allowing cells to align and orient as they do in vivo which facilitates a more predictive in vitro screen for toxicity, drug screening and cell based assays for more effective cancer and stem cell research. They are using at NFS a Fluidnatek LE-500 electrospinning machine from Bioinicia to produce their materials.

Bioinicia from its side, apart from being official sponsor of the event, also participated in the talks. Dr. Lars Markwort presented Applications of Electrospinning and Electrospraying for Biological Applications, whereas Celia Librán presented Encapsulation of Probiotics by Electrospraying in Functional Foods. Lars Markwort presented the advantages of electrospinning and electrospraying for the manufacturing of encapsulated omega-3 and the production of a biomedical device -a patch with controlled drug release for wound healing-, both projects carried out by Bioinicia, as showcased examples of electrospinning at industrial scale. Celia Librán, member of the R&D team at Bioinicia, explained about the experimental tests carried out by using a Fluidnatek LE-500 electrospinning machine for encapsulation of probiotics, resulting that encapsulation kept bacterial viability over 80% for longer times than non-encapsulated at 0%RH and 26%RH.

A. O. Basar from University of Atilim in Turkey presented Emulsion Electrospinning to Control Drug Release of Interest in Pharma Applications, where two different drug loaded electrospun materials were produced and their drug release efficiency were compared. Release studies were carried out in two different media simulating blood (7.4 pH) and stomach (2.5 pH) conditions. Experimental process was carried out using a Fluidnatek LE-100 machine from Bioinicia.

Lorenzo Pastrana from the Iberian International Nanotechnology Laboratory made his presentation about Application of Biopolymer Nanostructures in Food Sector. He explained that there are three primary structures at nanoscale suitable to be used in different applications in the food sector, namely: nanoparticles/nanocapsules, nanolaminates and nanofibres /nanotubes. All these structures can be obtained using food grade biopolymers such as carbohydrates, lipids or proteins. Combining the characteristics derived of the shape of these nanostructures with the biopolymer properties, three main applications can be envisaged. Thus, nanoparticles/nanocapsules can be used as smart delivery systems for bioactive compounds. Nanolaminates are able to develop edible coatings for active packaging of fresh and perishable foods. Nanofibres /nanotubes are suitable to modify rheological properties of foods creating new textures and useful functionalities (spreadable pastes, creams, gels). Electrospinning and electrospraying are ideal technologies for encapsulation as well as for creating membranes with functional purposes.

Dr. José María Lagarón from IATA-CSIC presented Electro-hydrodynamic Processing as a Versatile Nanotechnology to Generate Highly Functional Composites, Coatings and Layers Based on Nanocellulose and Biopolyesters. Dr. Lagarón has a large experience with electrospinning and electrospraying techniques.  In his presentation he showed recent results where nanocellulose was used as a filler to reinforce the barrier performance of electrospun biopolyesters such as polyhydroxyalcanoates to be used as paper and plastic coatings. The effect of different processing parameters and material combinations in mono and multilayer forms on the morphology, thermal, barrier and mechanical performance was explained in detail.

There were many other excellent presentations which were showed at NANOTEC 2016. Some of them are developments reaching already the market or ready to start to be produced at industrial scale. Let’s hope in the near future many other of these interesting research works made at lab turn into solutions available in market, improving life of people.

Source: Abstracts Book of NANOTEC 2016.

Increasing the throughput of the electrospinning process

Increasing the throughput of the electrospinning process

Multi-jet technology is a necessary approach to increase the throughput of the electrospinning process. Although multi-jet electrospinning is a more complex process than the single-jet, it has been demonstrated to be a better approach to enhance electrospinning productivity rather than substantially increasing the throughput of a single spinneret. Modified single-nozzle, multi-nozzle and needleless systems, have been developed to obtain multiple jets and thus to increase the system throughput. Electrospinning process

Multi-jets electrospinning was first accomplished using a single nozzle with a grooved tip, from the branches of which multi-jets were formed. This multi-cone technique proved to improve the productivity of the single-nozzle electrospinning process. However, the process is rather chaotic due to the poor control of the polymeric solution flow rate through each of the cones generated. Further, the mechanism behind fiber formation has not been examined. Later, the use of curved collectors on single-nozzle configuration to generate multiple Taylor cones was proposed as an alternative to enhance the throughput. Two possible mechanisms for this phenomenon were provided including electric field distribution and clogging of the passageway of the polymer solution. However, there are still a number of unsolved issues related to electrospun webs, including fiber morphology and diameter. No public reports have been to date published on mass production of nanofibers by this approach.

An alternative procedure considered to increase the throughput of the single-nozzle was to split the polymer jet into two separate sub-filaments during its flight to the fiber collector by applying a sufficiently large tangential stress.

The most direct method to increase the electrospinning injector throughput relies on the use of a bundle of nozzles. Nozzle configuration, nozzle number and nozzle spacing are the three key parameters to design a multi-nozzle injector. The multi-nozzle injector can be organized into: linear arrays and two-dimensional arrays, i.e. square, circular and elliptic, hexagonal and triangular.

A linear array of nozzles is the simplest multi-nozzle configuration. Several examples have been reported in the last few years. For example, linear multi-nozzle electrospinning setups composed of four nozzles were designed to produce nanofibers. It was shown that the nanofibers were unevenly deposited onto fibrous substrates probably because of the distorted electric field effect due to the finite boundary conditions. Further, spinnerets with arrays of seven and nine nozzles were employed to examine the behaviour of jets in multi-nozzle electrospinning.

Experimental results as well as simulations showed a contrasting behaviour between outer and inner jets such as bending direction and envelope cone. However, each jet was subjected to the typical bending instabilities observed in single-jet electrospinning. Electric field shielding at the inner nozzles was observed in a nozzle injector with a linear arrangement. It was observed that only the outer nozzles were active whereas the inner ones did not generate the Taylor cone.

An additional electrode is necessary in order to compensate for the boundary effect and homogenize the overall electric field. Most investigations on multi-nozzle electrospinning have been focused on two dimensional arrays. For example, multi-nozzle injectors with elliptic and circular configurations were designed to improve the process stability and throughput. It was shown the circular configuration was a more stable process and obtained higher a throughput for polyvinyl alcohol (1 versus 0.4 mg/min per nozzle).

Other multi-nozzle devices have been designed and developed, increasing the throughput obtained significantly. Some of them are able to mass-produce composite nanofibers webs from several kinds of polymer solutions. More recently, an industrial multi-nozzle injector composed by 1000 nozzles was reported.

At our company Bioinicia, and particularly through our engineering division Fluidnatek®, we have launched since 2012 a range of high-throughput multi-nozzle equipment for both pilot plant and manufacturing purposes called LE-500 and LE-1000, respectively. These tools that come with climate control unit for temperature and relative humidity control are designed to, for instance, meeting the existing stringent legislation criteria in the bio space and to provide complete flexibility for the manufacturing of electrospun / electrosprayed products. The equipment was designed to be integrated in industrial production lines involving roll-to-roll collection or any other of collection, pre or post-processing steps. Bioinicia has also built two demonstration/contract manufacturing electro-hydrodynamic processing plants in Valencia, Spain, that are currently capable of manufacturing a minimum of 2 T a year of nanofiber-based products with pharma/biomedicine legislation compliancy (GMP compliance) and a minimum of 1 kg/hour of powder-based products for pharmaceutical, cosmetic, agrochemical, nutraceuticals and food applications.

Source: Biomedical Industrial Applications, Innovations and Products (J.M. Lagarón, Atti Solaut, Sergio Castro, Yolanda Echegoyen)

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Our Clients say:

Being easily the best access point into industrial-grade electrospinning, the LE100 is a true asset for the SME to bridge across R&D and manufacturing.
Antonio Rinaldi - NanoFaber (Company). Italy, Europe.