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Herty Advanced Materials Center Launches Advanced Chemical Processing Unit

The Herty Advanced Materials Development Center (Herty), an applied research center of Georgia Southern University, has launched a new Advanced Chemical Processing (ACP) pilot facility which allows it 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.

The new ACP 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 biomaterials for the type of advanced composites used in the automotive and aerospace industries,” said Dr. Omar F. Ali, Director of BioProducts.

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 the 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.

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.

“The ability of American industry to compete in our global economy is increasingly turned by razor thin differences: a lighter case; a more break-resistant glass for a mobile phone; a lighter car body for 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 U.S. industry new and innovative materials—from new plastics to specialized coatings—that are otherwise impossible. In turn, it will give American industry an advantage in the market place.”

“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," says Ali. "We can then bleach the fiber and produce roll goods. 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."

“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, Herty 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.”

For more information about the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center, go to: www.herty.com. To learn more about Georgia Southern University go to www.georgiasouthern.edu.

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