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Research and Development

Collaborative Research

Collaborative research and development (R&D) sees businesses and our researchers working together on innovative projects in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology – from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge, contributing to business and economic growth. Projects will normally be part funded by some form of public sponsorship (e.g. grant aid from a government or public body).

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Contract Research

Contract research (sometimes known as commissioned research) is where a business commissions the University’s researchers to work on a specific challenge.  


Athletes benefit from the therapeutic qualities of cherry juice

  • Health and Life Sciences

Since 2010 Montmorency cherry juice products have increased in popularity among elite athletes and the wider public.  They are used to aid muscle recovery after intense exercise, to ease joint pain, and to enhance the quality and quantity of sleep. Consuming Montmorency tart cherry juice is now incorporated into the training regimes of a wide range of professional athletes in the US and UK including Team GB and elite American football and basketball players.

Caption: Dr Glyn Howatson

This increase in sales and consumption of tart cherry juice can to be directly attributed to ground-breaking research led by Dr Glyn Howatson at Northumbria University.  When the initial work, in 2010, and subsequent research was published it achieved widespread global media coverage.

The findings were shared directly with the UK’s most senior applied sport scientists including the National Director of Science and National Lead Performance Nutritionist, physiologists and recovery specialists at the English Institute of Sport and in Olympic medal winning Team GB sports.  As a result these sports used Montmorency cherry products in the run up to the 2012 Olympics and have found a positive benefit in recovering from strenuous competition, heavy periods of training and recovery from injury.

Montmorency tart cherry juice was already known to contain high quantities of phytochemicals that display anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. The research was the first to demonstrate that consuming the juice before and after intense exercise significantly enhanced muscle function recovery in the days following the exercise by increasing antioxidant capacity and a reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Sleep is an important part of the body’s recovery process and further research revealed that cherry juice helps with this aspect of recovery too.  Montmorency tart cherries contain naturally occurring melatonin a hormone which regulates sleep in humans and animals.  The research team found that consuming the juice results in a significant rise in melatonin levels for the person taking it and improves sleep quantity and quality by five to six percent.

The juice is now widely used in Premiership football and Rugby Union teams.  In the US numerous professional teams also use cherry juice as part of their recovery regime including teams in the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MBL).

BIM Academy: Digitising the construction industry

  • Engineering and Environment

Building Information Modelling (BIM) brings construction into the digital age. BIM is the structured creation, sharing, use and re-use of digital information about a building or built asset throughout its entire lifecycle. This involves the use of coordinated 3D design models enriched with data that are created and managed using a range of interoperable technologies.BIM

By 2016 the UK government requires all publicly-funded construction projects to feature collaborative 3D BIM. The ambition is to reduce by 20 per cent the capital cost and the carbon burden from the construction and operation of the built environment.

Northumbria University is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for BIM. Research carried out here has helped to generate the empirical evidence base for the financial and efficiency savings to be found in a much more collaborative approach to construction projects. Researchers have applied their knowledge to develop software, toolkits, best practice and training to aid the industry’s uptake of BIM.

BIM gathers and applies digital data from every stage of construction to ensure a smooth, efficient transaction from one phase to the next. It also provides a life-cycle overview where architects, engineers and project and facilities managers can achieve a fully-rounded picture of, not only how a build is progressing and the impact of any modifications, but how that building will behave and hold up to different environmental challenges throughout its life-cycle.

BIM Academy is an innovative joint venture between the University and Ryder Architecture to support the construction industry in using BIM as a catalyst for collaborative working. It is impartial and industry-facing, undertaking research, consultancy, software development, outreach and training. BIM Academy works closely in the UK with industry bodies such as RIBA Enterprises and the Government’s BIM Task Group.

BIM Academy’s knowledge leadership has been recognised internationally, winning both the Build Qatar Live and Build Sydney Live competitions. In 2013, Professor Lockley of the Academy was invited to sit on the panel of experts advising Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority on adopting BIM.

One of the Academy’s most high profile achievements is the creation and authoring of the National Building Specification’s (NBS) award-winning National BIM Library, a free-to-use resource of standard BIM content. The National BIM Library allows access to digital standard objects such as walls, windows and doors. This saves time re-creating them digitally for each version of the plans and ensures industry standards are met. NBS’s services and products are used by thousands of professionals in the construction and property industry on a daily basis.

Professor David Philip of the Government’s BIM Task Group, says of BIM Academy: “It is an effective route to disseminating results, effecting technological and organisational change and influencing the uptake of BIM in the UK and beyond. Through application and example it is highly supportive of the Government’s stated ambitions for transforming the UK construction industry through innovation.”

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BIM Academy
National BIM Library
The xBIM Toolkit

Northumbria researchers advise government on breakfast clubs

  • Health and Life Sciences

Researchers at Northumbria University have been instrumental in the setting up of hundreds of school breakfast clubs across the UK resulting in a measurable increase in children’s attainment and quality of life.

Professor Greta Defeyter and her colleagues have investigated the effects of glycaemic index on children’s cognitive performance and the effect of breakfast club attendance on children’s behaviour, cognition and social friendships. Their findings have been translated into an on-line training program that has up-skilled teachers, governors, NHS Public Health Advisors and parent volunteers.

This training provision, the first of its kind in the UK, has resulted in the start-up of more than 200 breakfast clubs. Following the implementation of these breakfast clubs, teachers have reported gains in terms of school attendance, punctuality, motivation and quality of life of many of the children involved.

For one city council, Defeyter and her colleagues investigated the impact of providing free breakfast club provision. The findings convinced Blackpool Council to invest in breakfast clubs and it decided to fund universal free breakfast club provision for all primary school children in Blackpool for 2013-2014 at a cost of £1.3 million.

Professor Defeyter regularly advises government, industry and academia of the importance of breakfast clubs and is a member of several advisory panels including the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food. “It is extremely rewarding to know that our research has informed the debate regarding the importance of school breakfast clubs,” said Prof Defeyter. “I hope that more schools in the UK set up breakfast clubs and I am pleased that our research findings are now being considered in underpinning school breakfast clubs in Europe.”

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Nzomics: Northumbria researchers help large corporates improve their products

  • Health and Life Sciences

Nzomics, a service set up by researchers at Northumbria University’s Department of Applied Sciences, develops biocatalysts that enable pharmaceutical and chemical companies to run their processes in a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way.

Nzomics Biocatalysis MainWhen compared with conventional catalysts, which are often based on precious or rare-earth metals, biocatalysts are based on naturally sourced enzymes and allow companies to run their processes at lower temperatures, lower pressures and in a less caustic environment. Enzymes also often react in a very specific way, enabling chemical companies to manufacture compounds that are not possible with more traditional means.

The biocatalysts developed at Nzomics have applications in a range of industries including pharmaceutical, fine chemical, food and biofuels. The company has worked with a diverse range of clients, including specialist companies such as Chemoxy and Prozomix.

Nzomics was set up because the advent of genome sequencing and the invention of molecular biology tools have enabled the translation of primary amino acid sequence from a public database to pure expression in a cell factory in a matter of weeks. Additionally, “The approach of rationally sampling sequence diversity from public dtatabases, i.e. the number of possible amino acid sequences that can generate a particular enzyme activity, results in a range of enzyme selectivities “ explains Gary Black, technical director of Nzomics. “These advances have meant enzyme technology is now an economically viable solution to many chemical problems,” explains Justin Perry, commercial director of Nzomics. “Not only do we offer a cost-effective and more environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional catalysts, we also enable customers to make their own catalysts rather than be dependent on the continuously fluctuating global precious and rare-earth metal markets. This gives our customers security over supply.”

Nzomics’ work has had an impact on a variety of companies, from SMEs to large pharma, and has facilitated high-value manufacturing in the UK. 

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Paving the way for peer-to-peer health advice

  • Health and Life Sciences

Using the web to seek out answers to health questions for you or your family is now common place. Many people will first consult a website about their health concerns before going to see a doctor.  The popularity of health websites it is just down to the rise of social media. In 2007 the publication of what was then ground-breaking research from Northumbria University, made a big impact on the future development of health websites in the UK and in Europe.

The research team based at Northumbria’s Psychology department, and led by Professor Pam Briggs, applied its knowledge from an earlier research project about consumer trust in e-commerce websites to explore trust in health websites. At the time the received wisdom in the health industry was that patients would trust health material only if it came from ‘reputable’ sources such as drug companies, physicians or government.

Northumbria’s research findings were the first to turn this on its head and show that in fact trust in a health websites was much more aligned with the amount of content from contributors who shared similar experiences to the individual: people were more inclined to trust health information if it was accompanied with the views and experiences of like-minded others, rather than just being information from professional sources.

The research showed that from the patient’s perspective only organisations deemed ‘impartial’ could generate trust, so advice from drug companies would be regarded with scepticism even it was subject to strict legal control.

The research was pioneering at the time and was soon picked up by the pharmaceutical industries, charities and the NHS, who revised their website and patient support materials accordingly.

The research team continues to provide advice and to work with a wide range of different organisations in the public, private and third sector on how best to create engaging on-line health content.  They are working with the Oxford-based health charity, DIPex, which provides patient experience websites, developing a new framework for patient engagement and a new set of web-design guidelines around peer-to-peer healthcare.

Bayer HealthCare: the effects of Berocca® on psychological functioning

Caption: Dr. Silvia Maggini - Senior Global Science Manager, Bayer HealthCare Consumer CareResearch and Development

  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Corporate

Researchers at the BPNRC were asked to test the effects of the vitamin and mineral supplement, Berocca® on psychological functioning. We recruited 215 healthy, young males aged 30 to 55 years, who were employed full-time.  They came in to the laboratory twice – once at the beginning of the study and once at the end: 33-days later. For the 33-days between laboratory visits they took Berocca® effervescent tablets or a placebo every day.

When they first came in to the laboratory, participants confirmed they were in good health and completed mood and stress questionnaires. They then completed a 60-minute computer program of demanding tasks which included repeating a set of three tasks of concentration and memory, six times. Repeating these same tasks has been shown to cause increasing levels of mental fatigue whilst also providing a measure of mental performance and level of tiredness. They were then given enough Berocca® or placebo to last for the next 33-days. As well as taking Berocca® every day, they also completed a series of concentration and attention tasks and completed mood scales on their mobile phone every week, before and after work. 

Berocca Tablets (1)Following the 33 day treatment period, participants returned to the laboratory and repeated the same tasks. They also completed an additional task designed to assess their high level cognitive function (Stroop test) during 40 minutes of walking on a treadmill.

Taking Berocca® every day led to lower levels of self-rated stress and increased ratings of mental health and vigour. Those taking Berocca® also rated themselves as less mentally tired following completion of the cognitive tasks compared to participants who took placebo and their performance improved too. These findings show that Berocca® can reduce feelings of tiredness and stress in males in full-time employment whilst also making them feel more active and healthy.

AVID Vehicles: High Value Low Carbon

Caption: Matteo Conti and Dr Stuart English with the Electric Nissan LeafResearch and Development

  • Arts, Design & Social Sciences
  • Corporate

Northumbria's High Value Low Carbon design unit is addressing the vital issue of how to translate government 'push' into consumer 'pull' and establish sustainable consumer demand for electric vehicles, to help the UK move towards a more eco-friendly future. 

Government investment is focusing on engineering, infrastructure and incentives, but it is human experience factors such as ease of use and how the vehicles make people feel that will ultimately drive consumer demand. The unit is therefore using design-led thinking to establish what features customers value in electric vehicles, and what they need to look and feel like, in order to make them a credible alternative to petrol cars.The unit is part of a consortium of vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers which, to date, has worked with companies such as Nissan, Petec, Sanko Gosei, Labone, Thomas Swan and Bayer on a variety of low carbon vehicle projects which are designed to enter production. As well as working with the dedicated HVLC team, partners can collaborate with undergraduate and postgraduate students and/or work with the Centre for Design Research to develop their concepts.

"Working with Northumbria University High Value Low Carbon programme has enabled AVID Vehicles to work through the concept and development phase of our Compact Urban Electric Vehicle, CUE-V. Having access to first class design students and facilities has enabled AVID Vehicles to take forward its pioneering prototype work in the development of electric vehicles. AVID were fortunate enough to have two students on placement during the development phase who were a credit to the university and the work which is being undertaken in the High Value Low Carbon programme."

AVID Vehicles


Caption: Andy Ward, Chief Technology Officer, 4ProjectsFunded Research & Development

  • Engineering & Environment
  • SME

4Projects is a supplier of specialised collaborative software for the construction sector. The company originally approached Professor Stephen Lockley to develop a cloud-based web support service for its clients using the University’s innovative Building Information Modelling ‘XBIM’ software. Northumbria’s BIM Academy is a centre of excellence for research, development, education and consultancy, promoting best practice, collaboration and innovation in Building Information Modelling.

The collaboration was so successful that it has now been extended through a Technology Strategy Board funded Construction ICT project, with additional consortia partners including AEC3, Vinci Construction and Kingspan. The project commenced in February 2012, with the goal of providing capabilities that help the construction sector to meet the UK Government’s target for all public sector construction projects to be utilising collaborative BIM by 2015.

ESRC: Imaging Homelessness in a City of Care

  • Homelessness city mapEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded
  • Arts, Design and Social Sciences

Following recent increases in non-statutory homelessness and rough sleeping, the spaces and places of homelessness are a matter of growing academic and policy concern. Imagined as dangerous, marginal and ‘other’, the governance of these spaces has traditionally been largely punitive; a consequence of the predominant conception of homelessness as ‘individual failing’. In Newcastle-upon-Tyne, this approach has been challenged by the concept of ‘spaces of care’, with the management of homelessness characterised by high levels of provision and co-ordination. It is a concept still in its infancy, however, and one increasingly challenged by the effects of welfare reform and austerity. This makes engagement with the shifting spaces and places of homelessness crucial.

Our aim was to foreground and amplify the voice of homeless people themselves in discussions of homelessness in the context of a City of Care (Newcastle upon Tyne). In pursuing this aim, Adele Irving & Oliver Moss worked closely with Changing Lives, Tyne Housing Association, Tyneside Foyer, Crisis Skylight and Your Homes Newcastle. They have since corresponded with representatives of the Department of Energy & Climate (who sought advice on carrying out their own mapping project) and been invited to deliver a keynote address at the Local Area Research & Intelligence Association Conference, 2015.

Through this research Adele and Oliver hope to have established an ‘evidence base’ complementary to those procured through more traditional means. Newcastle City Council was a key supporter of the project and the potential implications for its policies and actions on homelessness will be worked through in the coming months – both in the context of written articles and further research activity.

The focus of the project, ‘Imaging Homelessness in a City of Care’, was the development of a participant-led exhibition, constituted from 3 elements: firstly, a series of annotated maps tracing the life-histories of 30 homeless people; secondly, a ‘composite’ map – produced by Lovely Jojo – incorporating all 30 of the participants’ life-histories; and thirdly, a collection of photographic images assembled by a smaller group of homeless people.

This project was awarded funding – and has therefore been quality assured – by the ESRC. Forming part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science, the project was selected for showcasing (by means of a press release) by the ESRC on account of its timeliness and innovation. This in turn resulted in its identification and profiling by the BBC (being featured on regional TV: BBC Look North) and the BBC World Service. The project was reported on by the internet news platform BuzzFeed and all of the above encouraged a significant number of visits to our project blog. So far, visitors have come from more than 40 countries.

Nourish Me Now: investigating a milk based product as a recovery drink

  • Nourish Me Now logoHealth and Life Sciences

Nourish Me Now, a new sports drink company which came to prominence in an appearance on Dragons’ Den approached Northumbria University to investigate the effect of consuming yoghurt - milk based product as a recovery drink in recreationally active females. This short contact research activity was conducted by academic staff and supported by MSc students.

Since its launch, Nourish Me Now continues to generate positive media coverage and the Company acknowledges the relationship with Northumbria very positively. As a result, Northumbria is about to support a second bespoke research study to evaluate the effect of Nourish Me Now milk based products on a new target market and which is due to complete by April 2015. This business and enterprise relationship is mutually beneficial facilitating Northumbria University academic staff and students in applying their research in a practical way in supporting a new and developing company. Nourish Me Now has been able to utilise the findings to support product development, inform decisions and advocacy trusting fully the integrity of the research findings.

Rachel Smith and Lynwen Harrison Co-Founder and Directors of Nourish Me Now were keen to endorse their experience:

"Working with Northumbria University on our contract research has been nothing but a positive experience. From the start, their expert-led team have been supportive and above all, highly professional. We trust them entirely to help us with achieving our company goals for our product”.

Northumbria staff involved, Dr Penny Rumbold stated:

Working with Nourish Me Now has been a real pleasure. They have their own innovative ideas regarding the goals of their product but also recognise the importance of developing a sound scientific underpinning on which to base their ideas. It is refreshing to work with such passionate individuals.”

Click the image to download case study PDF.

370096LB Case Study Nourish Me Now


Montane 'Sleeping bag' Product Testing

  • Montane logoHealth and Life Sciences

Northumbria University's Environmental Chamber Research Group led by Dr Martin Barwood has successfully provided product testing for the leading performance outdoor clothing brand, Montane. Dr Barwood is a member of a larger research team investigating human interaction with protective garments and equipment designed for use in extreme environments including outdoor clothing, survival aids and other ergonomic devices.

This bespoke contract research was organised and conducted at short notice to support Montane at a key stage in their new product development phase. A series of controlled trials were undertaken to evaluate and determine the effect of extreme cold temperatures upon the performance of selected products from their sleeping bag range and in a controlled environment.

At Northumbria University the Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation boasts significant expertise in the area of Environmental Physiology supported by their state of the art environmental chamber. A group of academic research staff investigate the physiological and psychological responses to environmental extremes from the perspective of sports performance, health, military and occupational performance and to understand the underpinning physiological mechanisms that are stimulated during long term exposure to such stressors.

The environmental chamber enables conditions to be accurately simulated and held under tight control in a laboratory situation. Conditions that can be simulated include:

  • Hot environments: up to 40°C and 90% RH
  • Cold environments including sub-zero conditions: 10°C to -20°C
  • High altitude simulation by oxygen filtration: max height equivalent to 8000 m (i.e. conditions found in the Mount Everest range)
  • Water immersion: capability to study responses to cold (down to 5°C) and hot water (up to 45°C)
  • Wind chill: to an extent representative of a range of environments and sports

Deemed a success by management at Montane, Lottie Watkinson (Design & Development Manager) commented:

“We undertook very useful and informative work in Northumbria’s Environmental Chamber to develop and product test a range of sleeping bags in extreme temperatures. We are keen to maintain a link with Northumbria, the Chamber and academic expertise to support the design research and development process of future Montane products”

Click the image to download case study PDF.

370096LB Case Study Montane


Marlow Foods: Developing more efficient processes in food manufacturing including reducing waste streams and water consumption

  • Quorn logoHealth and Life Sciences

Researchers at Northumbria University worked with Marlow Foods, manufacturers of Quorn™ on the project titled “Recovery of value added ingredients from the waste streams of large scale bioreactors” a one year collaborative research project part funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The project funded by the Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) Food Manufacturing Efficiency fund aimed to characterise the waste stream from large scale bioreactors and assess and implement suitable waste recovery and water recycling technologies, reducing overall water consumption while recovering added value, natural ingredients that could be marketed and supplied to the food ingredient and related sectors.

Georgios Koutsidis, Principal Lecturer in Food Science (Enterprise & Innovation), led the project for Northumbria University working with Irene Peinado Pardo, Senior Research Assistant, along with other academics in the department of Applied Sciences to provide expertise in:

  • Characterisation and quantification of metabolites in waste streams utilising metabolomics approaches
  • Targeted analysis and characterisation of proteins, sugars, amino acids etc.
  • Separation technologies

Marlow foods have advanced their understanding of the components in the waste stream and have assessed possible methods for separation at bench scale. This includes a first mass balance and the development of new analytical procedures, all of which have established good platforms for further research into the recovery of molecules and the development of new revenue streams from the waste materials. Preliminary genome sequencing has also been carried out and attempts made to understand the gene expressions of proteins of potential high commercial value.

The benefits to Marlow foods are that it is now possible to monitor changes to the overall system whenever any modifications are made to the process. Advances made are being used to develop the nature and scope of next stage R&D including the possibility of re-starting the manufacture of Mycoscent.

Tim Finnigan, Technical and Innovation Director at Marlow Foods commented

“The investigations have provided essential data that characterise the components in a substantial waste stream as well as early process definitions for extraction. It is anticipated that the project will lead to commercial impacts on the food, process engineering, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and also on organisations that could benefit from the applied expertise developed by the team at Northumbria University.”

Northumbrian Water: Embedding sustainability by exploring best practice

  • Newcastle Business School

Northumbria University and Northumbrian Water are working in partnership to fund a sustainability research programme.The £60,000 programme will enable a PhD student to carry out research on how organisations can work in partnership to leave a lasting positive impact on the community and environment. This is a three-year research programme, which will aim to understand how companies and organisations can take sustainability to the next level.

This research will develop the practice of embedding sustainability further by exploring best practice and how it can be entrenched fully throughout an organisation’s structure. It will focus on leadership and management development through to the role of individuals and relationships with stakeholders.

The collaboration with Northumbrian Water is being led by the University’s Newcastle Business School. Northumbrian Water is already at the cutting edge of sustainable water provision, and recently retained a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its sustainable development – a badge of recognition it will hold for the next five years.

Dr. Jenny Davidson, Principal Supervisor and Senior Lecturer at Newcastle Business School, said:

“Sustainability is a fundamental issue for organisations today and many already have well established strategies and programmes in this area. We are delighted to be partnering with Northumbrian Water on this project. They are already acknowledged as leaders in sustainable practice, and a large part of this research will be about making the best better. This is an exciting opportunity for a high quality researcher to contribute to both theory and practice in the next generation of sustainability strategies."

Louise Hunter, Director of Corporate Affairs from Northumbrian Water added:

“We’re excited to be working alongside such an innovative university to offer one PhD student the opportunity to play an integral role in the future development of Northumbrian Water as we strive to enhance our reputation as the national leader in the provision of sustainable water and waste water services. “As part of the Embedding Sustainability within Organisations PhD research project, the student will be given unprecedented insight across the business to understand and enhance our successful social and environmental partnerships. Last year, we supported more than 680 organisations and gave more than 1% of annual pre-tax profits to projects which benefit the communities we serve. This project will give new insight into how we can further enhance this leading programme.”

Northumbria University collaborate with Industry to develop novel green biocatalytic routes to chemicals

Academics at Northumbria University, Newcastle are working collaboratively with Industry to develop novel biocatalytic routes to a useful class of organic chemicals used in the commodity chemicals industry to reduce process costs, carbon emissions and waste production.

The collaboration brings together Nzomics at the University of Northumbria, an acknowledged centre of excellence in Biotransformations with Chemoxy International Ltd, Biocatalysts Ltd and The Centre for Process Innovations.

The consortium has successfully completed a feasibility project under the “Sustainable high value chemical manufacture through industrial biotechnology” Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) competition part funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Following the success of the feasibility project the consortium achieved further funding from the second round of the “Sustainable high-value chemical manufacture through industrial biotechnology 2” (CR&D) competition co-funded by Innovate UK and BBSRC to scale up the process for commercialisation.


The traditional route to one of Chemoxy’s products was unsustainable due to declining availability of the substrate, despite a growing demand for the product. An alternative chemical route was identified utilising a waste stream from another product, however it was neither economically nor environmentally friendly. This initial problem brought together Northumbria University, Chemoxy International and Biocatalysts Ltd to develop and demonstrate an alternative biocatalytic route.

Feasibility Study

Professor Gary Black, Dr Justin Perry and Dr Meng Zhang have worked to identify enzymes that would complete the desired transformation and to develop a lab-scale biotransformation. Amongst 30 candidate enzymes that were identified and produced, two were shown to complete the desired reaction. Biocatalysts have successfully taken these lead enzymes and developed industrial manufacturing processes to provide sufficient material for Chemoxy’s pilot plant scale reaction.


Following a successful pilot plant scale demonstration the consortium have embarked on the second phase of the project to establish the biocatalytic process in the commercial arena. Academics are currently working to optimise the enzymes for this process and to reduce processing costs.

This new biocatalytic process will provide a green route to speciality chemicals through the use of sustainable enzymes with lower process operating temperatures and fewer hazardous chemicals than traditional chemical routes. This project will also reduce waste outputs and further energy consumption as the biocatalytic process utilises a waste by-product from the chemical industry that is currently disposed of at high energy costs with high carbon dioxide generation.

Northumbria researchers help tool manufacturer cut costs and increase product lifetime

SNA Europe is a leading provider of metal cutting tools. Its products are used around the world to cut the most difficult of materials. But some materials, such as ball bearing steel and titanium alloy are particularly challenging and will wear down cutting blades quickly. Researchers from Northumbria University have helped SNA Europe to reduce manufacturing costs and improve the lifetimes of its hacksaw and bandsaw blades by developing new coatings and optimised teeth shape and geometry.

A group of academic staff in Mechanical and Construction Engineering Department led by Prof Mohammed Sarwar investigated a novel application of high hardness and wear resistant aluminium titanium nitride (AlTiN) and titanium aluminium silicon nitride (TiAlSiN) coatings and found that these materials considerably improve blade performance. The researchers also studied effects of the kerf width, pitch, rake and clearance angles on performance of hacksaw and bandsaw blades and came up with optimised geometry and shape for the cutting teeth.

This research resulted in a reduction of manufacturing time of 10 per cent, a reduction of manufacturing costs of up to 12 per cent and an increase in lifetimes of up to nine per cent for the company’s hacksaw and bandsaw blades.

It also enabled the company to launch new products and to simply the manufacturing of prototypes because the researchers showed that it is possible to simulate the function and wear of a metal saw by testing a single tooth instead of the full saws.

Dr Martin Persson, Research Engineer, at SNA Europe said: “Investigations carried out at Northumbria University on improving the design, coatings and manufacture process of metal cutting tools was profoundly beneficial for the commercial activity of the company, increasing selling revenue and resulting in further strengthening the company’s position in the metal cutting tools market.”

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