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Organization:UniQuest Pty Ltd, Queensland, AU
I.P. Brief:Pepfactants are a paradigm shift in emulsion and foam technology. Pepfactants are a bionano material capable of controllably and reversibly switching between a stabilized and destabilized state. This controlled reversibility is unique and makes them ideally suited for the creation and elimination of emulsions and foams.
Summary of I.P.:In some processes or products the intended outcome is the formation of an emulsion or foam. In others, emulsions and foams are an undesired by-product or intermediary that often necessitates additional processes, harsh additives or long durations of time to eliminate or reduce, all at an additional cost to production. Now imagine a revolutionary new material that can be custom engineered to act as either an emulsifying or foaming agent AND/OR a demulsifier or defoamer, respectively. Our Pepfactant material not only reliably and effectively fulfills the needs of existing applications; it literally offers the potential for the creation of new solutions. Because of the Pepfactants ability to reversibly switch between a stabilizer and a destablizer, process engineers will have a new tool in their toolbox that has the potential to add tremendous efficiencies to their processes. Emulsions and foams are created or eliminated in many products and industrial processes. This technology has the potential to make an impact in several industries including oil & gas, chemical, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and processed foods. We envision Pepfactants as an enabling technology that is ready and waiting to be tested in a multitude of applications across all of these industries.
Patent:PCT filed February 24, 2006
Keywords:Surfactant, emulsifier, foam, demulsification, defoam, coalesce, chemical process, fluid separation, surface tension, interfacial tension
Primary Industry:Chemicals
Specific Market:Chemical Engineering
Market Size:The combined markets of the chemical, biocatalysis and oil recovery industries alone are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Due to the uniqueness of the Pepfactants technology it is difficult to estimate the total potential market, but it is antici
State of the Art:Thousands of effective and safe emulsifying and foaming agents are in use today. Contrary to that, the elimination of these states often requires harsh chemicals and/or expensive, multi-stage processing facilities. An example is the process used for extracting water from crude oil.
Competition:A few polymer surfactants are in development that are capable of switching between states but to date none have been reported to be capable of reversibly and repeatedly switching. Additionally, they are not widely customizable or able to work initially in either state.
Figures of Merit:Pepfactants are a first in class technology that is expected to create new, and simplify old applications in which an emulsion or foam needs to be created and/or broken. Being a biological material it is a green technology and production efficiencies have already been developed by the biopharmaceutical industry.
Tech.  Obstacles:Although we have developed a series of rational design parameters it may not be possible to extend the design to all applications. Additionally, the Pepfactants may be degraded and rendered ineffective by the contents of some processes.
Market Obstacles:1. Identification of initial high impact and high value applications and the customers willing to support those applications. 2. Capital for the prototyping and testing of identified applications as well as environmental impact and biodegradability studies. 3. Scalable manufacture of the Pepfactant formulation at a scale and cost that is economical.
Patent Landscape:US 5,844,039 – Polymers comprising reversible hydrophilic functionalities WO 2004/096422 – Particulate emulsifiers, emulsions, and uses thereof WO 2005000970 – Charged emulsions for site-specific deposition of matter at micro and nano scale.
Publications:1. Dexter and Middelberg, \"Stimuli-responsive Biomolecular Interfacial Architectures for Emulsion Technology\", 13th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology, San Francisco, October 22-27, 2005. 2. Dexter and Middelberg, \"Interfacial networks of amphipathic peptides\", Chemeca 2005, Brisbane, September 25-28, 2005. 3. Dexter and Middelberg, \"Force transmission by designed peptide ensembles at interfaces\", 7th World Congress of Chemical Engineering, Glasgow, July 10-14, 2005. 4. Jones, D. B.; Middelberg, A. P. J., Mechanical properties of interfacially adsorbed peptide networks. Langmuir 2002, 18, 10357-10362. 5. Middelberg, A. P. J.; Radke, C. J.; Blanch, H. W., Peptide interfacial adsorption is kinetically limited by the thermodynamic stability of self association. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97, 5054-5059.
Research Team:Prof Anton Middelberg, Federation Fellow, PhD, BE (Hons), Group Leader, and Dr Annette Dexter, PhD, BSc (Hons), Postdoctoral Associate, both of The University of Queensland combined have over 30 years research experience. Prof Middelberg and Dr Dexter lead a team investigating fluid-fluid interfacial properties and control mechanisms using peptides.


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