Research Perspectives - Tools for Visualisation of Portfolios
EPSRC logo

EPSRC Database


Source RCUK EPSRC Data

EP/K005693/1 - SPICE: Silk Processing In Controlled Environments

Research Perspectives grant details from EPSRC portfolio

http://www.researchperspectives.org/gow.grants/grant_EPK0056931.png

Dr CA Holland EP/K005693/1 - SPICE: Silk Processing In Controlled Environments

Fellow - Materials Science and Engineering, University of Sheffield

Scheme

EPSRC Fellowship

Research Areas

Complex Fluids & Rheology Complex Fluids & Rheology

Start Date

01/2013

End Date

01/2018

Value

£997,052

Similar Grants

Automatic generation of similar EPSRC grants

Similar Topics

Topic similar to the description of this grant

Grant Description

Summary and Description of the grant

This fellowship will be used to assemble a new UK team of physical and life scientists with the aim of turning natural processes into engineering applications. Our goal is to discover new ways of sustainably processing naturally sourced materials which will in turn reduce the environmental footprint of oil-based polymers.

The majority of natural materials are grown. Silks, by definition, are spun. My own work has shown that in many ways silk spinning has more in common with industrial polymer extrusion; however there is one key difference, environmental impact. Silk is a high performance, biodegradable biopolymer spun at room temperature, with the only waste product being water. We have also recently demonstrated this process occurs at an energy cost around a thousand times less than a typical polymer. Such a unique source of inspiration is now more valuable than ever, as global industry faces increasing pressure from consumers and governments to find new ways of producing high quality yet fully sustainable materials.

The overall objective of this proposal is to develop the means to control the processing of biopolymers into structures with predictable properties. To achieve this, my team and I will use the state-of-the-art characterisation lab I have already assembled. This permits us to study our test materials before, during and after processing. First we will design a series of biomimetic spinning devices based on the shape and processing conditions of a natural silk gland. This device will be validated by spinning small amounts of native silk feedstocks with the aim of producing fibres indistinguishable from those spun naturally. Secondly we will use artificially produced silk feedstocks, which can be obtained in large quantities, to spin fibres with predictable properties and in amounts suitable for investigating new industrial applications. Thirdly using our knowledge of how best to process a silk feedstock, we will then investigate non-fibre based processing of these materials, namely blade coating to make films and 3D printing to make complex structures. Finally the team will subject a range of artificial biopolymer feedstocks to our processing techniques and assess their potential in terms of sustainability and performance.

The outputs from this project will encompass technological achievements and scientific insights. Technologically, the development of a biomimetic spinning rig will be the first of its kind and should be valuable as well as high profile. We will discover if an artificial feedstock can be processed into a material with properties equal to, if not better than, its natural progenitor. Extension of our spinning platform into other processing technologies will answer a highly controversial question "is silk a good material, or just a good fibre?" Investigating other biological materials, which have uses from food to healthcare, will reveal if it is possible to spin a biopolymer optimised for growth. Industry will be engaged throughout the project to identify we can learn from a system with 400 million years of research and development. Together, my team and I will provide an unprecedented understanding of how to sustainably process naturally sourced materials and the tools to drive this science into the 21st century.

Structured Data / Microdata


Grant Event Details:
Name: SPICE: Silk Processing In Controlled Environments - EP/K005693/1
Start Date: 2013-01-17T00:00:00+00:00
End Date: 2018-01-16T00:00:00+00:00

Organization: University of Sheffield

Description: This fellowship will be used to assemble a new UK team of physical and life scientists with the aim of turning natural processes into engineering applications. Our goal is to discover new ways of sustainably processing naturally sourced materials which wil ...