Electrospinning turns plastic materials into nanofibers that have a huge range of uses including flexible sensors, filters of nano-sized pollutant particles, and next-generation composites, all used in a wide variety of markets, including aerospace, architecture, automotive, energy, infrastructure, marine, military, and sports/recreation. Our nanotechnology will enable stronger, lighter vehicles resulting in fewer emissions and cheaper travel via a reduction of fuel and CO2 emissions. In addition, the nanofibres are able to carry within the fibre “web” additional so-called “functional materials” such as viral or bacterial killing agents, creating lightweight particulate filter masks that not only block but also kill the virus, for example.

Our aim is to create a core business exploiting our state-of-the-art patented electrospinning system, which creates or substantially improves nanofibres for industrial applications via bespoke customisation. To achieve this, we must first build up the existing innovation into an industrial research-capable electrospinning rig and then use this industrial rig to develop a pipeline of new products, together with the new industrial processes by which to manufacture these products. Ultimately, we will build on our innovation to become a world leader for the UK in nanofibre technology.

Through listening to the challenges voiced by industry, we redesigned electrospinning from its fundamental electrostatic physics, resulting in an innovative solution which delivers tight control of the structural organisation and morphology of the nanofibres, delivering consistent and reproducible performance. Furthermore, we can use recycled polymers which are more sustainable and negate the need to use environmentally harmful alternatives. This places us in the advantageous position of being able to offer a high-value product with a low production cost, based in the UK.

Utilising our technology, the first confirmed customer-led project is the development of a smart textile or “wearable” sensor which can be incorporated into clothing and worn on the body. This will be used as a foetal monitoring device to help prevent the 3,400 tragic stillbirths in the UK, improving quality of life and significantly reduces the costs to the NHS.