Uni spin-out opens world’s largest nanoparticle plant

Nanoparticles - Professor Ed Lester at the Promethean Particles nanomaterials plant - image courtesy of University of Nottingham.
Professor Ed Lester at the Promethean Particles nanomaterials plant - image courtesy of University of Nottingham.

University of Nottingham spin-out business, Promethean Particles, has opened the world’s first facility which is capable of producing thousands of different nanomaterials.

Nanoparticles are used for a variety of uses, such as in artificial bone; scratch proof coatings; printed electronics, and flame retardant materials.

Zironium Oxide nanoparticles at 5 nanometres - image courtesy of University of Nottingham.
Zironium Oxide nanoparticles at 5 nanometres – image courtesy of University of Nottingham.

The plant, which was developed as part of a pan-European nanomaterials research programme – known as SHYMAN – can manufacture more than a thousand tonnes of nanomaterials every year.

The SHYMAN (Sustainable Hydrothermal Manufacturing of Nanomaterials) project, which had a total value of €9.7m, included partner universities and businesses from 12 European countries.

The outcome of the project was the creation of the largest multi-material nanoparticle plant in the world, based in Nottingham. Operated by Promethean, the plant is able to operate at supercritical conditions, producing up to 200kg of nanoparticles an hour.

Speaking about the project, Professor Ed Lester, Technical Director of Promethean Particles explained: “This new facility opens up a significant amount of new opportunities for us. We have already had a lot of interest from companies in a diverse range of sectors.

“From healthcare, where nanoparticles can be used in coatings on medical devices, to enhanced fabrics, where nanomaterials can add strength and flexibility to textiles, and in printed electronics, as we are able to print materials such as copper.”

The SHYMAN project was funded by the European Union’s Framework Programme 7 (FP7), which enables universities and businesses across Europe to explore the potential of new technologies in industry.

Dr Susan Huxtable, director of Intellectual Property and Commercialisation at The University of Nottingham, said: “These are very exciting times for Promethean Particles. The new facility opens up a myriad of opportunities for them to sell their services into new markets right across the world.

“It is a great example of how many of the technologies developed by academics here at The University of Nottingham have the potential to benefit both industry and society.”