The object of this project is to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of added-value chemical formulation materials based on renewable feedstocks and to enhance competitiveness of the UK chemical producing and using sector, including industrial process chemicals and consumer products. This follows from a scientific insight (an outcome of Marie-Curie funded work at Unilever R&D, on Green Chemistry) into the liquid structuring capacity of modified cellulose fibres in combination with other materials and the potential commercial value of this innovation across sectors, starting with consumer products and extending to agrochemicals and drilling fluids. Functional, renewable & sustainable hybrid (FR&SH) rheology modifiers for aqueous formulations will be developed collaboratively by a team of end-users, producers and scientific experts. Recognising the need for the UK to find ways to add value to commodity renewable feedstocks, produced at scale for other purposes (i.e. principally for pulp & paper), in a way that leverages the capacity of the existing chemical supply industry, without requiring extensive capital outlay, while addressing the commercial needs of UK based commercial R&D and manufacturing, the focus is on "adding value" rather than on production of input feedstocks (e.g. cellulose fibre), which tend to be a lower value activities and largely based elsewhere (e.g. N. American or Scandinavian pulp industries). As well as developing compelling functional and sustainability advantages for the materials concerned, collaborative development of an innovative business model to realise that potential will be pursued and end of life impacts minimised.
Gel formation in partially oxidised cellulose suspensions occurs in the presence of anionic surfactants or added monovalent salts. Nonionic surfactants can be added to gels containing anionic surfactants but do not alter gel properties appreciably, nor does the oxidised cellulose gel with nonionic surfactants alone. Our work suggests the gels form due to a mixture of ion shielding effects and depletion flocculation. Oxidised cellulose formulations relevant to personal care products have been developed by the project partners and are being commercialised.