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UKINNOVATION UK109 Materials nanoforce technology ltd Polymers and Composites Nanoforce's activities in the polymer and polymer com-posite area revolve around the concept " atoms to appli-cation". The company has experience in diverse fields, e. g. soaps and surfactants, biopolymers and composites, conductive polymers, ballistics protection, electronics etc. We possess a suite of processing equipment with the ability to work with grams through to tens of kilograms. The company has invested in a range of equipment which includes twin screw extrusion, injection moulding, film blowing, co- extrusion, weaving loom, filament winding, roll to roll coating and electrospinning plus many others. Nanoforce has been involved in a large number of material development activities, including: 1) Polymer nanocomposites is a relatively new and high-impact field in composites, allowing unique properties to be achieved often at very low filler loading. These include electrical and thermal conductivity and gas barrier prop-erties using nanofillers such as carbon nanotubes and nanoclays. 2) Highly oriented fibres/ tapes. Polyethylene is used in commodity application such as milk bottles and grocery bags, however when suitably stretched ( oriented) the same polymer can be used as a ballistic fibre to stop bullets. Nanoforce has a wealth of experience in orienting many kinds of synthetic and biopolymers. 3) Functional packaging to pack goods from food to electronics offers a significant technical challenge. Shielding, gas penetra-tion, gas scavenging and recyclability are a few require-ments of packaging. Nanoforce has a pilot size 3 layer film blowing line, allowing the trialling of films with a functional gradient, e. g. one layer could be a water bar-rier while another could be an oxygen scavenger. 4) Elec-trospinning for the generation of a non- woven fibre mat from polymer solutions. The fibres have very small dimen-sions, typically into the nanometre range. This allows the exploitation of the unique surface properties of polymers. These fibre mats can be used for filtration of very fine particulates and can include other additives such as silver for antimicrobial action. Advanced Ceramics Nanoforce is pioneering the exploitation of Spark Plasma Sintering ( SPS) technology in the UK. SPS can sinter ceramic, metal or composite powders to high density. This includes difficult systems to densify, including ultra-high temperature and hardness carbides and borides, and refractory metal alloys. The furnace works by the rapid heating of electrically conductive dies by pulsed DC electric currents in a vacuum or inert environment. It can achieve heating rates of up to 600K / min up to 2,200° C. The rapid heating rate combined with high pressure ( up to ~ 1GPa) opens up a new processing win-dow and the possibility of producing new materials with microstructures and properties that cannot be achieved using conventional sintering techniques. For example, nanopowders can be processed to produce high- density nanoceramics with minimal grain growth. It can also be used to produce novel materials such as ceramic- carbon nanotube nanocomposites, as well as metastable ceram-ics and ceramic composites, materials that combine dif-ferent phases that would not normally coexist. SPS is a high- throughput technique, which makes it ideal for quickly exploring new materials and an energy- efficient route for the mass production of materials. Potential applications of our materials include: ballistic pro-tection for vehicle and body armour, sputtering targets, high- temperature piezoelectric sensors and actuators, heating elements, bioceramics with improved wear prop-erties, nano- filters, and functionally gradient materials. Nanoforce is also looking into the preparation of a wide range of sputtering targets for thin film applications, especially those based on borides, carbides and nitrides, and in the production of higher density and phase purity targets. Nanoforce Technology Limited Queen Mary, University of London Joseph Priestly Building Mile End Road, London E1 4NS Tel: + 44 ( 0) 20 7882 2773 For further information, please visit www. nanoforce. co. uk or email info@ nanoforce. co. uk

110INNOVATION UKINNOVATION The innovation challenge for the built environment We constantly interact with the built environment. From the roads we drive on, the homes we live in, the retail and leisure outlets we visit to the offices, schools and hospitals we work in, we are surrounded by our built environment. This makes buildings and other man- made surroundings fundamental to how we work, rest and play The built environment makes a substantial contribu-tion to the UK's economy with over two million people employed in the construction sector alone, contribut-ing approximately 8% of the UK's GDP. This does not include the wider supply chain consisting of the design community, materials and components suppliers, logis-tics companies and facilities managers who make up the wider built environment industry. Like many other sectors of the wider economy, the indus-try is currently facing tough times. Order books are down and margins are being squeezed. Innovation is therefore vital to ensure that the organisations in the UK relying on the built environment maintain their competitiveness and can deliver the buildings, spaces and infrastructure needed for the 21st century and beyond. How we build and operate our buildings has an enor-mous impact on our environment. The statistics are quite astounding. Around 50% of the UK's carbon emissions and water consumption is in buildings, one third of our landfill waste and one quarter of all raw materials used in the economy are attributable to the built environment. The government's Strategy for Sustainable Construction states that the UK aims to lead the world in sustainable construction. Innovation in new technologies, products and systems is key to enabling the UK to achieve this goal. The UK construction industry is often criticised for its lack of innovation, in fact there is much for it to cele-brate. In the words of Egan: " The UK construction indus-try at its best is excellent and its capabilities to deliver the most difficult and innovative projects matches that of any other construction sector in the world." In order to maintain and improve our competitiveness we cannot stand still, we have not yet met all the challenges that we currently face and there will always be new challenges for the industry around the corner. Capitalising on the opportunities on the global stage is both a challenge and an opportunity, with the UK already well placed in delivering iconic design and leading- edge technology via its world- class architects and consultants. Other parts of our supply chain can also expand their business portfolio by seeking to export their products and services abroad. The role of the Modern Built Environment Knowledge Transfer Network The Modern Built Environment Knowledge Transfer Network ( MBE KTN) provides the framework to enable innovation to happen more easily. It is funded by the Modern Built Environment MODERN BUILT ENVIRONMENT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER NETWORK Peter White, BRE