Herty Advanced Materials Development Center Launches New Advanced Chemical Processing Pilot Facility

The new ACP pilot faciltiy at Herty allows the development, testing and production of a wide range of advanced, specialty, and high performance materials like nanocrystalline cellulose.

Aug. 24, 2015 - The Herty Advanced Materials Development Center (Herty) on August 13 launched a new Advanced Chemical Processing (ACP) pilot facility. This new pilot facility allows Herty to expand its research programs and client services to those companies seeking to develop and test new advanced materials required in today’s international and increasingly competitive markets. Applications range from the development of protein specific fibers for pharmaceutical purification to the production of biomaterials for automotive parts.

"We listened to our industrial partners and engineered this new pilot facility to meet their future needs for material and chemical processing," said Dr. Alexander A. Koukoulas, President & CEO. "The scale and flexibility of this system is second to none and it integrates well with our extensive in-place capabilities. It provides our partners and clients with a unique platform for accelerating the pace of new product development."

The new ACP at Herty allows the development, testing and production of a wide range of advanced, specialty, and high performance materials like nanocrystalline cellulose — an exceptionally strong, low-cost, renewable composite material that has multiple applications in the automotive and aerospace industries. It also enables Herty to process a wide variety of materials from minerals to polymers for industrial, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical applications, as well as for pulp bleaching.

"Nanocellulose has the strength properties similar to those of Kevlar® and is considered to be one of the most promising renewable biomaterial for the type of advanced composites used in the automotive and aerospace industries," said Dr. Omar F. Ali, Director of BioProducts. "With our newly-designed facility and our expertise in processing this renewable material for multiple purposes, we are poised to help industry partners produce these advanced materials for a variety of current and next generation industrial needs."

The versatility of the ACP pilot area will also go beyond nanocellulose, allowing Herty to process anything from minerals to polymers, and to modify those materials — turning the pedestrian into exciting. One such amazing transformation will be the production of bio-based polymers, such as lignin, which can be used to produce low-cost carbon fiber.

Additionally, the ACP pilot area will allow Herty to provide more traditional chemical processes, such as pulp bleaching, as an integral part of its traditional pulp and paper services.

"The ability of American industry to compete in our global economy is increasingly turned by razor thin differences — a lighter case or more break-resistant glass for a mobile phone, a lighter car body with an improved mpg, or lower-cost materials for manufacturing medicines," said Dr. Walter Chappas, Director of Herty’s Advanced Materials Group.

"This new reactor system offers a powerful platform for giving US industry new and innovative materials, from new plastics to specialized coatings that are otherwise impossible, and American industry an advantage in the market place," Dr. Chappas said.

At the center of Herty’s ACP pilot facility is a versatile 500 L reactor, which can be used for continuous mixing, multi-component reactions, and continuous drying. All wetted parts are Hastelloy®, which allows the processing of corrosive materials, such as strong acids. The reactor system is fully instrumented, with data logging capabilities to monitor reaction conditions. Direct reactant injection and sampling is available.

"We now have the ability to process raw biomass feedstocks such as wood chips and agricultural residues, and process this material to isolate the fiber. We can then bleach the fiber and produce roll goods," said Dr. Ali. "This means we can provide product developers with a unique one-stop-shop for processing natural fibers, making the process more efficient, cost-effective, and streamlined for our partners."

The Herty Advanced Materials Development Center, an applied research center of Georgia Southern University, is a world-class research, development, and demonstration facility. Herty is a new product and process accelerator providing technical, market, and development expertise in short-fiber composites, biomaterials, and biomass processing. Herty’s expertise and extensive pilot-scale capabilities for prototyping new products help companies de-risk the commercialization process. To learn more, please visit: www.herty.com.

SOURCE: The Herty Advanced Materials Development Center