Research and Development of Multi-purpose Microtube Array (MTA) Membrane: Applications Identification through Materials Selection and Development of Prototype Production Unit via Fabrication Process Optimization Abstract A novel polymeric, micron-sized hollow fibrous membrane was prepared via co-axial electrospinning with very unique structural characteristics, such as, extremely high fiber alignment, epitaxial-like packing and tunable wall porosity, and can be best described as an array of microtubes (MTA). Several advantages can be realized by such unique structural features. First, the micrometer size of hollow fiber provides more functional surface area than its macro-sized counterparts. Secondly, high packing density of these microtubes not only further increases the overall active surface area but also makes the modulation of MTA membranes easy and effective. The base polymer dictates overall applications, while special functionality can be added to MTA by incorporating active ingredient. Due to its hollow fiber nature, MTA can certainly be used as reactor or separation unit. The anisotropic characteristic further empowers MTA with extra directional functionality. This is especially beneficial for tissue engineering scaffolds. Therefore, potentially these MTAs have extremely wide spectrum of applications. However, there are still fabrication challenges prevent adoption of such process from commercial manufacturing. It is our strong desire to overcome these difficulties and bring these MTA into real life applications through this three-year project. Two main goals of (1) Identifying a key application through exploring possible ones with educational selection of materials and fabrication approaches, and (2) developing a commercial prototype unit especially for the chosen key application, will be accomplished by conducting these designed three stages activities, namely (1) Designed functionality and verification: more functional addition and through selection of materials for wider applications, plus proof of concepts on selected applications, (2) Process optimization: process for stable and fast production, with at least one key application demonstrated, and (3) Prototype unit: development of a semi industrial prototype unit for the production of key application. At the end of the project, we will present a key MTA application with a prototype production unit for manufacturing such MTA product, and hopefully, this is only a very beginning of the fruitful outcomes of MTA membranes.
|Effective start/end date||8/1/12 → 7/31/13|
- Microtube array (MTA)
- hollow fiber