A Spanish research centre, specialised in the study and application of carbon materials, has developed an ecological and affordable method that produces high-quality fully customizable carbons. These features give outline to two main problems: a new synthetic process for this kind of materials which tend to be complex and expensive, and the valorisation of a waste by-product as it is the whey from the dairy industry.
Currently in the market, there are a high variety of activated monolith carbons which are manufactured using techniques as extrusion or coated materials with limited meso- and micro-porosity, achieving simple geometry. Within the aiming of producing customized structures by additive manufacturing, non-renewable synthetic precursors that are potentially harmful and very expensive materials are used. From the point of view of the valorisation of the whey, some solutions have been proposed in the context of the production of active carbons, however, there is not still a valuable material that could support the high quantities of wasted whey.
This product is a fully customizable material in any shape and size, made from sustainable products with outstanding physical properties (low weight, low density, high permeability, low abrasiveness, high mechanical strength, and dimensional stability at temperatures up to 1000 ºC). It is biocompatible and customizable through control of its porosity, surface chemistry, and material properties. All of these features result in a high variety of applications which can be divided into biomedical and bioengineering (scaffolds for tissue engineering, biomolecules filters and biomolecules support); environmental (filters for gaseous and liquid substances) and chemical engineering (catalyst support, membranes, bioreactors and bioreactor parts), energy storage (3D carbon electrodes).
The material is ready for testing in a specific context and increases its value. A partner would be supportive through a research cooperation agreement that results in a demonstration of capacities within any of the aforementioned applications. Therefore generating new and promising forms of the material and all the protection strategies that would outcome from them, creating a relevant advance in social and market value for this kind of products. That cooperation would be envisaged through the direct finance of the partner or with a European grant, within the context of horizon Europe 2021-2027, or a national call from the country of the respective partners. If the partner considers that the technology is already valuable and wants a license for its particular development and commercialization, a license agreement would be negotiated to establish the terms for the further exploitation of the technology.