Accelerating innovation in formulation, materials and manufacturing

The UK’s National Formulation Centre

CPI works to develop, de-risk and accelerate your new products and processes to market. We achieve this by using innovative formulation technologies and harnessing our expertise and state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, alongside a deep knowledge of the funding environment. 

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Optimising your materials, formulations, technologies and manufacturing processes is a crucial part of turning your great idea into a commercial success. CPI has world-class skills, analytics and equipment to achieve this. Housed in industry-relevant facilities, we offer tailored solutions for developing and optimising your liquid and powder formulations, nanomaterials, composites, chemical processes and new technologies. 

Through advanced experimentation, data analytics, modelling and simulation and process engineering expertise, we help you gain a deeper understanding of your product and manufacturing process and give you full confidence in your material, formulation and technology decisions. Our extensive capabilities and industrial experience will help you develop, optimise and scale-up faster, bringing your improved product, process or technology to market sooner. 

Our capabilities

Formulation is used across diverse markets to produce a wide variety of everyday products, for example when producing a tablet containing active pharmaceutical ingredients or creating the ideal paint, coating, detergent or almost any other product you can find in your home; through to complex and specialist industrial products such as composites for aircraft or batteries for electric vehicles. 

Formulation science is a complex area involving the creation of multi-component, often multi-phase, products (increasingly using sustainable raw materials) and delivering benefit to the end-user or consumer. It is crucial that the manufacture of these products is competitive globally. 

CPI gives you access to state-of-the-art facilities and the expertise of our highly skilled people, to overcome your processing and product challenges and bring your great idea to market faster. 

Enabling innovation

We can help you overcome challenges in formulation, processing and scale up, providing novel solutions tailored to your platform and technology requirements. 

Our cross-sector expertise and knowledge allow us to drive innovation in product formulation and process optimisation across a wide range of market sectors. Our focus areas include sustainable battery materials, sustainable polymers, plastics and packaging, nanotherapeutics, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) including paint, home and personal care, food and drink, agritech and sustainable composites and advanced materials, all underpinned by advanced digital solutions and sustainable process technologies. 

We can help you with...

  • Sustainable battery materials
  • Sustainable polymers, plastics and packaging
  • Nanotherapeutics
  • Fast-moving consumer goods
  • Agritech (or Agrichemicals)
  • Sustainable composites and advanced materials
  • Sustainable process technology
  • Digital

Get in touch

Want to speak to a member of our team?

Contact us
Tariq Al Tayeb

Tariq Al Tayeb

Business Development Manager

Connect

Nanomaterials

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Operating from purpose-built laboratories which enable industry leading safe handling of nanomaterials, we specialise in the functionalisation, dispersion and characterisation of nanomaterials, including nano-powders (multi-kg), nanofluids and solid nanocomposites. We use nanomaterials to impart a range of properties into new products and processes including improvements in thermal, electrical, mechanical and barrier properties. Nano-enhanced materials developed in our laboratories see adoption across a range of market sectors from printed electronics to energy storage, from packaging to speciality chemicals. 

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Safe handling of nanomaterials 

  • Nano-enabled glove box, downflow booths, respiratory PPE etc
  • Enables clients to safely develop and test prototype products and processes containing nanomaterials before committing to Capex on similar equipment in their own facilities

Functionalisation and dispersion 

  • Nanomaterial functionalisation used to increase compatibility with solvents, polymeric binders, resins etc
  • Both wet and dry nanomaterial functionalisation capabilities
  • Dispersion is enabled via a range of mixing techniques and shear conditions traversing volumes from 10’s of mls to 10’s of litres

Nanomaterial characterisation 

  • Structure and morphology: RAMAN spectroscopy, electron and atomic force microscopy
  • Nanofluids: rheology, dispersion stability, particle size
  • Performance measurements: powder resistivity, sheet resistance, bulk conductivity, surface energy, adhesion, tensile strength, thermal conductivity

Colloid science

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We support our customers to develop and optimise a range of product types such as emulsions, dispersions and the application of encapsulated additives destined for the coatings, nanomedicines and consumer products markets. These can be made at a range of scales and our labs include continuous micromixing pilot lines suitable for producing e.g. nanomedicines for use in targeted drug delivery 

We use a range of measurement techniques including rheology, particle sizing and zeta potential which provide valuable insights into product dispersion and stability properties, and enable formulations to be developed with the desired product attributes. We have techniques to measure the stability of dispersions and emulsions in real-time or at accelerated timescales. 

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Encapsulation 

  • Encapsulation of formulation components for a range of product types and market sectors
  • Range of mixing techniques for encapsulating additives, from batch to continuous and scale-up
  • Analysis and characterisation of encapsulation efficiency

Stability 

  • Stability of emulsions, dispersions and encapsulated active ingredients in formulated products
  • Measurement of stability in dilute and concentrated dispersions/​emulsions to characterise and predict product shelf life and failure mechanisms
  • Experience and application in a range of markets and product types

Complex medicines capability 

  • Develop, optimise and scale processes across a range of organic and inorganic nanoparticle architectures
  • Development and scale-up of purification strategies in both continuous and batch modes
  • Formulation through the use of cryoprotectants for successful lyophilisation and freeze-drying cycle development

Polymer processing and composites

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Polymer processing capabilities via extrusion are combined with significant polymer chemistry expertise to allow for bespoke product development in areas such as more sustainable packaging, biodegradable plastics and novel 3D printable polymers. This polymer blending capability is complemented with an ability to incorporate nanomaterials (and other powder and liquid additives) into both thermoplastics (via additive feed extrusion) and thermosets (via dispersion in precursor resins). Demonstration of these novel polymeric blends in use is also possible in our laboratories using our in-house 3D printing, injection moulding and resin infusion capabilities. 

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Extrusion of novel thermoplastic polymer blends 

  • Extruder process optimisation
  • Product development – identifying optimal blend ratios

Additive incorporation into thermoplastics/​thermosets

  • Ability to incorporate powders and liquid additives 
  • Thermoplastic and thermoset nanocomposites
  • Master-batching capability

Demonstration-in-use: additive manufacturing, injection moulding and resin infusion 

  • Open source thermoplastic (FDM) 3D printing, photopolymer (SLA) 3D printing, 3D CAD design and bespoke mould creation
  • Resin infusion of novel resin/​additive blends in fibre-based composite systems 
  • Injection moulding of components for application testing

Material and formulation optimisation

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By applying scientific knowledge to link a formulation and/​or material’s structure to its application performance, CPI can provide knowledge-based optimisation of material design. Characterisation enables quantification of performance or composition using techniques that assess a wide range of both surface and bulk properties for a given material/​formulation. In combination with in-house expertise across a range of industries, these techniques can be combined to give insightful information to improve a product’s performance.

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Surface and bulk property relationships 

Through understanding the impact of surface and bulk properties on the performance of a material or formulation, CPI can adapt and redesign to improve products across a range of industries. Measurements include: 

  • Microscopy and spectroscopy
  • Thermal, mechanical, electrical and barrier 
  • Tribological and accelerated ageing 
  • Liquid and gas chromatography

Interfacial properties 

Understanding the complex chemical interaction between interfaces and their effect on performance e.g. coatings and adhesion

Improved material selection 

By applying knowledge from across industry sectors, CPI has the skills to help customers by highlighting alternative materials to improve performance, sustainability, and cost.

Automated experimentation

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We support companies with rapid and efficient generation of robust data sets using automated experimentation and screening methods; enabling our clients to evaluate automated methods and investigate a much broader range of formulation possibilities. We have experience across a wide range of market sectors e.g. FMCG, inks and coatings, batteries, lubricants, adhesives. 

Our Automated Formulation laboratory is equipped to handle and process most types of materials and screen for a wide range of properties including mechanical, thermal, stability, optical and surface, chemical, and electrical.

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Workflow and experimental design 

  • Design Analysis of your existing lab workflows and specification
  • Development of bespoke automated workflows
  • Proof of concept studies to demonstrate automated methods
  • Application of conventional DoE and Machine Learning techniques to produce optimised experimental design

Automated materials handling and processing 

  • Capability to safely dispense mobile, viscous and highly viscous liquids, pastes, slurries, waxes, powders, granular materials and nanomaterials
  • Automated coating, drawdown and mould fill Invasive and non-invasive mixing methods available, including impeller, high shear rotor-stator, vortexing, and dual asymmetric centrifuge (DAC)
  • Ability to interrogate key process parameters at reduced scale

Characterisation and screening 

  • Understand the impact of formulation and process parameters on key product attributes: stability, rheology, particle size, surface tension, chemical composition, pH
  • Characterise and screen products in final form: optical and spectroscopic, electrical, mechanical, thermal and surface properties
  • Microfluidic approaches to understanding formulation stability

Modelling, informatics and data science

CPI has recognised expertise in mechanistic and data-driven model building. Our mechanistic capability allows us to develop simulations of fluid, particulate and bulk solid systems.

We have recognised expertise in data – driven model building for calibration, process development, soft sensor development and mode-based process control. With experience in implementation of online measurement for liquid and particulate systems our diverse set of PAT instrumentation can be used to probe and control liquid, slurry and granular material processes. 

Fluid, particulate and mechanical simulations 

  • Study and optimisation of fluid, particulate and slurry flows using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Discrete Element Modelling (DEM)
  • Design of equipment such as stirred tanks, storage hoppers, pumps, powder and fluid mixers, conveyors and sampling interfaces 
  • Finite Element Analysis (FEA) for the design of packages, equipment components and other structures where shape and strength characteristics are important

Data modelling 

  • Use of multi-variate statistical and machine learning techniques to develop empirical data models
  • Verification of empirical models against a broad corpus of technical knowledge available in CPI

Model-based process control 

  • PAT and sensor-based measurements
  • Chemometric calibration model building
  • Soft sensor development
  • Build and deployment of full process control model

Process optimisation and scale-up

Your lab-scale process or pre-lab idea is transferred into our own labs where our global award-winning team uses our state-of-the-art facilities to develop and optimise your process, ensuring its robustness and suitability for scale-up to commercial plant. The experimental results we generate are used in the early stage Process Engineering design of your commercial-scale plant, typically giving you a pre-FEED (Front End Engineering Design) report which can be used to attract future funding. 

Scale-up and mixing rig has the exciting capability with inline measurement of viscosity and particle size and shape; software capability to achieve model predictive control; supporting soft sensor development.

Digitally-enabled test bed for innovation in liquid formulation manufacturability 

  • 1 – 1000L temperature-controlled stirred tanks which can be flexibly configured to mimic your process
  • Separate rigs for use with aqueous-based and solvent-based processes PAT-enabled advanced model-based process control
  • Rapid and robust process scale-up through smaller-scale learning
  • Investigate cleaning regimes and processes
  • De-risk innovation by testing new sensors and measurement technologies in an industrially relevant environment
  • Establish manufacturing control schemes – adjust process parameters in real-time to narrow specification tolerances/​limit off-spec product
  • Validation of PAT tools/​measurement methods
  • Development of chemometric calibration and process models
  • Soft sensor development and validation

PAT-enabled powder twin-screw wet granulation 

  • Unique sampling interface to enable the presentation of powder samples to PAT instruments 
  • Online particle size and shape measurement through image analysis and Near Infra-Red techniques
  • Online moisture measurement via Near Infra-Red techniques
  • Online composition measurement via Raman techniques

Batch to continuous processing 

  • Over 10 years of experience of continuous or flow chemistry on multiple projects with a wide range of clients from SMEs to global pharmaceutical companies, at both laboratory and pilot-scale
  • Understand underlying chemistry to design a suitable flow reactor system; to be successful an extensive knowledge of the critical parameters and their effect on the reaction chemistry is required
  • Modifications or changes to any existing batch process will be needed in the vast majority of cases

Process engineering design

CPI’s global award-winning Process Technology team has significant experience in the development of new and novel processes and technologies across all processing industries. We help you throughout your journey to commercialisation, by providing engineering services which include: 

  • Technology assessments 
  • Concept studies 
  • Design and commissioning support 
  • Economic assessments 

We use the same approach to help you to improve and optimise existing processes on your journey to Net-Zero.

Technology assessments 

Technology assessments occur at any stage of technology development and can be adapted to meet your needs, e.g. a technology commercialisation risk assessment provides an overview of the key process risks for scaling-up and commercialising the technology.

  • It takes into consideration a range of factors including economics, regulation/​legislation, development time, environmental requirements, scale-ability, equipment availability, production rate, product quality, reliability, operability
  • The assessment identifies the unique risk profile for your technology and then determines the risk mitigation measures required
  • It helps you create a technology development roadmap to enable the successful commercialisation of your technology

Concept studies 

This is the fundamental engineering design which takes information from initial laboratory experiments and literature reviews to produce an initial engineering design that provides the basis for all future engineering work. The information included can vary depending on the specific needs of the project and technology, however most studies would include at least the following key engineering deliverables: 

  • Boundary limit definitions define the boundary between the process and its environment and the specifications of any materials or energy that pass through that boundary 
  • Process flow diagrams map out the major equipment items and show the key steady-state streams that are required for normal operation 
  • Heat and mass balances map out the flows of mass and energy throughout the process 
  • Equipment design basis determines the key sizing criteria for the major process equipment and enables preliminary equipment sizes to be estimated 
  • Process hazard assessments evaluate the basis of safety for the process, address major process hazards, and provide the basis for future safety assessments 
  • Control and operating philosophies determine the initial strategies and approaches to be used for commissioning, operating and controlling the process 

Design and commissioning support 

Engineering design support provides technical input into detailed design, procurement, installation, commissioning and operation of a process; ensuring that the process is designed, built and operated in line with its technical and commercial requirements. This can include:

  • Providing solutions when technical compromises are required during the design and build of the equipment 
  • Troubleshooting and fixing quality, performance and operational issues during testing, start-up and commissioning of the process 
  • Gathering data on the process performance to help anticipate and mitigate potential problems, optimise the process, and assess the performance of the technology 

Economic assessments 

An economic assessment determines the economic viability of a process by estimating its capital and operating costs, the distribution of costs throughout the process, and highlighting which steps are major contributors and where improvements could be made. 

  • The design of the process is first established by determining the appropriate industrial equipment required to undertake each key step. This allows the creation of a preliminary design in the form of a process flowsheet and a heat and mass balance which is then used to determine the capital and operating costs for the process. 
  • The capital cost is estimated using the industry standard approach of estimating individual equipment costs and then applying standard factors to estimate the total installed capital cost, and the operating costs are calculated from the usages and prices of the utilities and raw materials. 
  • The output of the assessment allows for the identification of the major capital and operating cost contributors, and the ability to estimate the impact that any potential cost-saving improvements will have on the overall economics. 

Powder technology and processing

Powders are everywhere! From consumer products such as detergents and instant coffee to agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. Due to their complex nature, powders can pose many challenges such as segregation, poor flow and dissolution. CPI’s powder technology and processing capability comprises a state-of-the-art lab equipped with a range of powder processing and characterisation capabilities as well as a team of scientists and engineers highly experienced in powder processing. This allows us to help you by: 

  • Developing new formulations and processes for the manufacture of powders via blending, granulation, coating, tabletting etc. 
  • Measuring and improving the quality of powdered products in areas such as flow and dissolution. 
  • Improving process control through the use of Process Analytical Technologies

Developing new formulations and processes 

CPI’s powder technology and processing capability has a range of prototyping equipment designed to allow new processing routes to be evaluated. Some highlights:

  • Granulation
  • Tabletting
  • Coating
  • Dry blending
  • Containment capability for handling hazardous materials

Measuring and improving quality 

Some highlights on CPI’s powder characterisation capability:

  • Powder flowability using a range of techniques (shear cell, uniaxial compression, dynamic flow) 
  • Particle size using conventional sieve based as well as laser diffraction techniques 
  • Particle and tablet strength using a range of impact, shear and compression-based methods 
  • Moisture sensitivity using dynamic vapour sorption and water activity methods 
  • Powder and tablet dissolution

Improving process control 

Traditional off-line measurements for product quality can be resource-intensive and not conducive to effective process control. At CPI we have capability that can help clients evaluate online sensors and develop model-based process control techniques for powder processes: 

  • A multi-PAT powder stream conditioning chute to enable simultaneous online measurements from multiple probes in a continuous stream
  • Near Infra-Red, Raman and image analysis-based PAT technologies for online measurement of moisture, particle size and composition

Get in touch

Want to speak to a member of our team?

Contact us
Tariq Al Tayeb

Tariq Al Tayeb

Business Development Manager

Connect

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