Stanford researchers have developed self-assembled, moldable hydrogels using dynamic and multivalent polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) interactions.

About

Background:

Stanford researchers have developed self-assembled, moldable hydrogels using dynamic and multivalent polymer-nanoparticle (PNP) interactions between commercially available cellulose derivatives and silica nanoparticles. The facile and scalable preparation of these materials leveraging self-assembly of inexpensive, renewable, and environmentally-benign starting materials, coupled with the tunability of their properties, make them amenable to a range of industrial applications. In particular, the team demonstrated their utility as injectable materials for pipeline maintenance and product recovery in industrial food manufacturing as well as their use as sprayable carriers for robust application of fire retardants in preventing wildland fires. 
 

Stage of Research: 

Successfully tested hydrogels in two very different applications: 
Enhancing product recovery and efficiency of pipeline cleaning in commercial wineries – use of food-grade versions of these hydrogels instead of water prevented product loss during product transfer between standard batch processes. Following product transfer, pipes were more efficiently cleaned using our hydrogels, requiring significantly less water and producing less waste. 
Dispersing wildfire retardants- mixing this hydrogel with a widely-used fire retardant coated fuels for far longer than the standard retardant formulations and protected the retardants from being washed away with a subsequent water treatment.


Applications:

Aqueous viscosity modifiers in food, beverage, cosmetics, or coatings industries
Pipeline maintenance in food, beverage, cosmetics, and coatings manufacturing
Enhanced product recovery in batch processes in the food, beverage, cosmetics, and coatings industries
Fire retardants for wildland fire fighting and prevention

Advantages:

Scalable synthesis and low cost – can be made on an industrial scale at low cost
Environmentally benign starting materials from renewable resources
Reduces gross water consumption during industrial processes
 

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