The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the UK’s technology innovation provider for process manufacturing, has announced that the three-year project ‘Chariot’, an £18 million consortium set up to drive the commercialisation for new and improved powder-based consumer products, has successfully finished.
The project, funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative, has delivered and demonstrated multiple technologies to allow reinvention of supply chains for the powder industry. Led by global industry partner Procter & Gamble, the consortium has involved high profile academics from the Universities of Leeds, Birmingham, Cranfield and Durham, the UK-based SMEs, International Innovative Technologies and Ajax, as well as CPI. Chariot has developed powder processing technologies to profit a broad range of powder producing industries.
As a consequence of the project, a pipeline of growth for the broader UK industry is expected, with reapplication and further commercialisation of the technologies that were developed within the consortium. The equipment, open-access facilities and expertise that were developed during the Chariot project will continue to be made available to UK-based companies at CPI’s National Formulation Centre in Sedgefield. Companies active in developing powders and granules can use the powder mixing test bed on a commercial basis, or as part of CR&D activities, to develop new products and processing techniques.
In addition to the equipment developed in the Chariot project, CPI has made significant investment into Process Analytical Technology-enabled wet granulation technologies and a packing and filling test bed, as well as extensive characterisation capability in particle size distribution, powder rheology, and surface properties. The facilities and expertise have been established to enable companies to develop new products and techniques, as well as to optimise processing, packing and filling activities, and ultimately increase productivity.
At the universities, in addition to the academic breakthroughs, 9 PhD students and 18 Post Doctoral Research Fellows have received highly valuable experience in the field of particle processing, with their academic training being part of this industry collaboration. The two SMEs in the consortium, International Innovative Technologies and Ajax, have been able to develop, demonstrate and commercialise innovative new equipment that is already finding its way into real world industrial settings, and will drive sales going forward.
“Chariot has been an exciting venture for Ajax. As an SME, we have benefited from the strong collaborative approach with the industrial and academic partners. In particular, a key understanding has been provided by Positron Emission Particle Tracking tests that revealed the key interactions and particle movements within the Ajax mixer to confirm its effectiveness for dry and wet mixing” said Simon Fields, Senior Technical Engineer at Ajax. “We look forward to maintaining lasting relationships with the project partners, and in particular, supporting CPI as a provider of comprehensive test and development facilities for the powder processing industries.”
For Procter & Gamble, the project has successfully developed new particle technology approaches for novel powder product design, created new equipment that enables novel supply chains for powder products, and has unearthed new areas of science and understanding.
“Within Procter & Gamble, the Chariot project has been a novel approach to traditional R&D development – but this has helped us work with different partners, to accelerate the innovation and find some out of the box ideas. Based on this experience, we will certainly be looking to leverage the capability Chariot has laid down, and approach future work in similar ways” said Clare Martin, Section Head R&D, at Procter & Gamble. “We are very happy that CPI is moving into the powders processing industry, and its facilities in Sedgefield will undoubtedly aid the powder processing industry in the UK, with its high level of expertise and unique possibilities for collaboration and knowledge-sharing.”
Dr Graeme Cruickshank, Director of the National Formulation Centre at CPI, said: “We invite those who are looking for help in the development of powder formulations to visit us at the National Formulation Centre where we have a focus on helping companies meet their challenges by providing industry relevant expertise and facilities to solve real world problems. We’re proud to have successfully completed the Chariot project with our partners and look forward to enabling further innovation for organisations who develop powdered products”.