School of Chemistry - Business Partnership Unit
  • Print

Innovation Projects




Current Projects


EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account Proof of Concept Project – Metal Organic Frameworks for Carbon Capture

Project Summary: The growth in the multi-billion dollar market for technologies that separate carbon dioxide from other gases is driven by a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and lower the energy consumption associated with large industrial processes such as natural gas purification. There is a demand for new technologies that reduce the high energy consumption and high running costs associated with current CO2 separation/capture systems. The research group of Professor Martin Schröder has developed a novel porous material, NOTT-300 (Nature Chemistry, 2012,4,887-894), which has significantly improved performance for CO2 capture applications compared to current capture systems. This project will develop the scale-up and larger scale testing of this material and test its function in “real world” gas separation systems.

EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account Proof of Concept Project - DABAL-ing In the Market

Project Summary: The formation of amide bonds from organic acids and amines is ubiquitous both in life (i.e. in proteins) and current medicines’ development where it is estimated that > 50 % of all active small molecules contain amide sub-units. Active Pharmaceutical Intermediates (APIs) that move forward to clinical trial or commercial use constitute a multi-billion £ market. While some amide bonds are trivially easy to attain, many are formed very slowly requiring a promoter referred to as a ‘coupling agent’. Typically these agents have different ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ with the higher efficiency agents having higher cost. One low cost agent is trimethylaluminium, however, this is spontaneously flammable in air! The research group of Professor Simon Woodward have developed amide couplings based on DABAL-Me3 (a patented air-stable version of AlMe3) and this is now widely used in both academic and industrial labs but only at research scales (<5 g). In 2012, the School of Chemistry began a partnership with Aesica to investigate the use of DABAL-technology for kg scale API manufacture. An initial feasibility study confirmed the potential for use at larger scales (Tetrahedron, 2013, 69, 9890–9897). This project is focused on demonstrating the utility of DABAL-Me3 to prepare a suitable API or analogue on multigram scale. The project will involve further optimisation of reaction conditions and scale up synthetic work. In addition industrial partners Aesica and Key Organics will identify potential market opportunities for this technology.

EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account Knowledge Transfer Secondment – Delivering value chemicals from food waste

Project Summary: One important area in the development of new feedstocks for the production of chemicals is the use of biomass (e.g. plant material such as lignin). The research group of Professor Martyn Poliakoff has developed a new reactor system which increases significantly the yield of chemicals that can be generated from lignin when it is treated with high temperature/supercritical water. Working with local SME Sustein, this project will investigate applying this technology to a new area, the isolation of proteins from food processing waste streams. The project is undertaken by Chris Tuck whose PhD studies form the basis of this project. Chris splits his time between the School of Chemistry and Sustein as part of the project.


EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account Knowledge Transfer Secondment – High pressure phase detection apparatus

The research group of Professor Steve Howdle has extensive experience in pioneering the use of high pressure supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) to prepare novel materials for medical implants.   However, the production of these materials has proved difficult as the researchers we not able to measure the pressures inside the reactors required to generate the desired foams. In order to reproduce their research they require a simple, small-scale and easy to use commercial high pressure mechanical test device. Lacerta Technology Ltd have developed world-renowned expertise in polymer characterisation equipment and hold a substantial portfolio of patents, designs and equipment know-how that places them at the leading edge of polymer technologies. They had already identified a need to develop a device that could measure polymers under high gas pressure and an initial collaboration  successfully located Lacerta’s unique patented Phase Detection Apparatus in bespoke University of Nottingham designed high pressure apparatus. This allowed the research team to observe the effects of changing the gas pressure on polymers at a fixed temperature – the first time that phase changes can be observed in real time. This knowledge transfer secondment project looks to develop the technology further by introducing additional analysers to the same apparatus to deliver an unprecedented suite of analytical tests for high pressure polymer testing.  The project will be undertaken by a secondee from Lacerta who will work closely with Professor Howdle to test and develop the high pressure apparatus for commercial exploitation.

 BBSRC Sparking Impact Scheme - Spider Silk

 Project Summary: The BPU are assisting with a collaborative development project between Professor Neil Thomas (School of Chemistry) and Dr Sara Goodacre (School of Biology) that is investigating the potential to produce spider silk with tailored properties for commercial applications.


Completed Projects


ERC Proof of Concept project – Sustainable Synthesis of Metal Organic Frameworks (SUSMOF) (1/1/2013-31/12/2013)

The barrier to the commercialisation of metal organic frameworks is their lack of availability in high scale via economically and environmentally viable production routes. Joint research between Professor Martin Schröder and Professor Martyn Poliakoff has developed a novel synthesis for MOF materials in high temperature water using flow technologies that represent an exciting new sustainable and clean route to their preparation without the use of toxic and expensive organic solvents. The SUSMOF project focussed on developing the technology into an industrial scale process and successfully delivered 500g of commercially available MOF material MIL-53 at a greatly reduced cost, both economically and environmentally, than the existing manufacturing process. Further work is now underway to develop the technology further.


TSB Innovation Vouchers – Arvia

Arvia Technology Limited were awarded an Innovation Voucher from TSB. This allowed them to work with Professor Martyn Poliakoff on investigating the use of supercritical fluid processing of their materials.
 Knowledge Transfer Partnership – Molecular Profiles Ltd (2006-2008)
The physical, chemical and pharmacological characteristics of a solid-state compound can be substantially affected by changes in the physical form of the material. For example highly ordered crystalline material has very different properties relative to the same material in the amorphous form (where there is no long range order). Within the pharmaceutical industry it is of great importance to have a good understanding of the materials that comprise a drug product and this includes an appreciation of the quantity of the amorphous phase that is present.
The aim of this collaboration was to design and develop a novel method using hydrogen/deuterium exchange and vibrational spectroscopy that could be used to quantify the amorphous phase in a model compound, lactose. The KTP project ran for two years between 2006 and 2008, and the success of the project can be measured in terms of the benefit and impact that has been realised by the three parties involved: The University of Nottingham and Professor Mike George, Molecular Profiles, and the KTP Associate, Paul Whiteside.
Over the course of the project information about the work was disseminated through poster and podium presentations in the UK, Europe and in the US. This kind of exposure benefits the industrial partner since it raises the company’s profile at relevant industry events, as well as providing the Associate with valuable experience. One such podium presentation led to the Associate being awarded the inaugural Duncan Bryant Memorial Prize at an RSC event, an award that recognised both the relevance of the work and the success of the project. The collaboration also resulted in a peer review publication, which was a target for both the academic and industrial partners.
Upon completion the Associate was offered a permanent position at Molecular Profiles and the collaboration has continued with two additional, follow-up projects first involving a Masters student under Professor George’s supervision and subsequently a PhD (EPSRC) studentship sponsored by Molecular Profiles


Contact the BPU




Business Partnership Unit

School of Chemistry
University Park Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 74 86268