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Home » Research » Advanced Materials

Advanced Materials

GnoSys has a long history of leading and supporting projects that research novel as well as conventional materials. It has a track record in polymers and composites, thermoplastics and thermosets, organic, inorganic and nanomaterials.

Advanced Polymer Blends

Blending two or more polymers can be used to create new materials that have different properties to the original, individual components. The aim is to blend appropriately to provide the final material with beneficial properties derived from the individual components, or to create a material with entirely different physical properties. Successful blending depends on a number of factors, from the choice and compatibility of the components to the processing conditions used in production. These factors need to be understood to achieve reproducible improvements.

Gnosys have extensive experience in producing polymer blends, using our laboratory scale solution reactors and melt extruder and compounders. We have produced reliable blends with excellent electrical performance and improved mechanical properties for use in the electrical cable applications. In addition to the blend components, additives, such as antioxidants and stabilisers, should also be considered to make the materials fit for purpose. Gnosys have successfully moved lab-scale materials through to scale upto, pre-commercialisation production volumes in a number of projects.

Example projects:

Suscable 1 – Supported by a consortium including Innovate UK and National Grid. Elements of this work have been published at CIGRE and HiPerNano

Suscable 2 – Second phase to Suscable1, moving the material development further to commercialisation and large volume cable production.  Supported by Scottish power, National Grid, ORE Catapult and a number of other leading cable manufacturing partners.

Contact Point: Dr Amy Pye

Functional materials

The functionalisation of materials regards the modification of a material, with the aim of enhancing already-existing properties or to confer additional capabilities. This can be achieved through a range of methods, including surface treatment, polymer grafting, or the dispersion of nanoparticles throughout the host matrix. In each case, the effectiveness of functionalisation depends upon a range of factors, and these must be well understood in order to select the correct approach for a given application.

Gnosys has worked with a range of functional materials as part of our work with the power sector. Examples of these include:

  • Advanced insulation materials containing functional polymer and functionalised nanoparticles to enhance breakdown strength and thermal conductivity.
  • Hydrophilic thermoplastic elastomers, possessing superior water blocking capabilities compared to currently used water-blocking tapes.
  • Reactive insulation oils, designed to autonomously seal breaches in fluid-filled cable sheaths.

Gnosys is seeking to further develop these materials and their capabilities, as well as creating novel materials capable of self-reporting.

Example projects include:

CableCare – Supported by an EIC project with two participating UK DNOs: Scottish and Southern Electricity, and Scottish Power

Fluid CableCare – Supported by an EIC project with three participating UK DNOs: UK Power Networks, Northern Power Grid and Electricity Northwest

NanocompEIM – Supported by a consortium including Innovate U, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Electric, National Grid, Alstom Grid, Mekufa, University of Southampton

Contact Point: Dr Rhys Rhodes

Nanomaterials

Nanomaterials

Gnosys Global have experience in generating new nanocomposites and optimising them to meet the requirements of various clients. This includes sourcing and quality assuring nanomaterials, i.e. ensuring that batch to batch variations, are eliminated. Gnosys Global are also experienced in functionalising and dispersing nanomaterials within polymer matrices using various solution and melt blend techniques.  Good interfacial chemistry is ensured, first by understanding and choosing the appropriate materials and also through defined surface modification.

Gnosys’ characterisation methods of nanocomposites have also been successfully used to produce new resin based formulations with defined chemical and physical characteristics.  These systems have been scaled to component production volumes and their properties and performance verified.

Example Project:

NanocompEIM – Supported by a consortium including Innovate UK, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Electric, National Grid, Alstom Grid, Mekufa and The University of Southampton.

Contact point: Dr Nicola Freebody

Self-Healing Materials

Gnosys’ development of self-healing materials extends from performance-related structural design to product processing and formulation. Our holistic approach to applied self-healing materials involves balancing the role of the bulk material in promoting self-healing with application-specific property demands. Our research spans the following fields:

  • Intrinsically self-healing semicrystalline thermoplastics and thermoplastic elastomers. With an emphasis on repeatability of healing and polymer property retention, Gnosys research targets broadly applicable and application-specific self-healing polymers and blends. This is complemented by academic partnership to develop new self-healing chemistry.
  • Oxygen-activated solidification of dielectric fluid blends. Gnosys research targets electrically insulating, phase-transformation fluid blends designed to seal containment breaches or cure to a durable, surface-functional coating in response to oxygen exposure. 
  • Non-molecular, stimulus-responsive self-repair modes for thermoplastic elastomer blends. Gnosys research centres on formulation, testing and processing of materials capable of defect healing by mechanical response.
  • Combining material self-healing or self-repair with self-reporting functionality. Gnosys research targets the incorporation of appropriate stimulus-responsive molecules into materials where asset condition assessment is desirable. Designed to complement self-healing development.

Contact point: Dr Ian German

Related Projects:

Self-healing Materials for Power Cable Applications

Fluid CableCare

Extruded CableCare