Commercial
Applications

Lactams have been incorporated as coatings into and onto a range of substrates as well as formulated into sprays and mousses to investigate their anti-biofilm efficacy in a number of applications.

Penrhos Bio is working with potential licence partners across a range of industries to develop lactam solutions to sector-specific biofilm challenges.

Commercial Applications

Lactams have been incorporated as coatings into and onto a range of substrates as well as formulated into sprays and mousses to investigate their anti-biofilm efficacy in a number of applications.

Penrhos Bio is working with potential licence partners across a range of industries to develop lactam solutions to sector-specific biofilm challenges.

Banknotes

“We need to clean up our dirty currency”
Economic Times (of India) Sep 2018

“Dirty Money: 19 bugs linked to sickness and poisoning”
Daily Mail UK, Oct 2018

“How clean is cash? Research into filthy lucre wins Ig Nobel”
Dutch News, Sep 2019

These are just some of the growing number of articles detailing how dirty the banknotes and coins in everyday circulation actually are. Bacterial species such as E-Coli and salmonella have been found on banknotes, including polymer notes.

Currently, around 170bn banknotes are issued globally by 165 central banks. Contrary to popular opinion, worldwide banknote production is not decreasing, it is actually increasing annually by 3-5%, so this is not a problem that is going away.

Varnishing paper banknotes was introduced around 25 years ago in response to the new class of polymer banknote substrates. Varnishing results in a thin protective layer printed on both sides of the banknote which increases the life of a banknote. There are now around 48bn varnished notes in circulation.

Most interestingly, banks are now using the varnishing process to explore the use of additives. Due to the well-documented issues with ‘dirty’ money, banks are adopting a ‘clean-note’ policy. One of the additives they are looking at is the use of anti-microbials to combat these issues.

For the past three years, Unilever plc (and now Penrhos Bio) have been working with Inovink; www.inovink.com, a leading developer of additives for the banking industry.

Lactam has been incorporated into a varnish and onto paper and polymer banknotes and it’s effect on bacterial adhesion assessed by an independent microbial testing laboratory.

✓  Lactam has been added to banknote varnish with no detrimental affect to the materials or processes
✓  Presence of lactam in banknote varnish has shown to significantly hinder adhesion of bacteria

The technology is now at TRL 5. This highly innovative product, BioNote™, is in the final stages of development and will be taken to the market by Inovink through an exclusive licence.

Household Machine Cleaning

Household dishwashers and washing machines are highly susceptible to biofilm formation. A variety of internal metal, plastic and rubber parts of these appliances harbour growth of mixed bacterial/fungal communities that are protected by extracellular polymeric substances (EPS).

Biofilm formation within a dishwasher.

Biofilms formed in these conditions can contribute to biotransformation of organic matter to generate noticeable malodour.

These biofilms can also lead to dispersion and persistence of bacterial/fungal groups leading to disease pathogenesis. Fungi have been well documented inside dishwashers and washing machines with domestically sourced fungal infections on the rise steadily over the last decades

Reference taken from; Zupancic et al: PLOS ONE | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0148166 February 11, 2016.

Environmental pressure for temperature reduction (e.g. cold cleaning) and removal of harsh, yet effective, antimicrobial ingredients (e.g. bleach) has made the situation even more challenging.

Existing products often seek only to mask bad odours with fragrance and the current machine additives market is targeting cleanliness and freshness. Increasingly, consumers are turning to additional products such as bleach to address hygiene concerns. Lactams offer an environmentally friendly solution against biofilm build up and contamination in household appliances, thereby addressing the underlying cause, not the symptom.

spray

✓  Lactam prototype incorporated into mousse formulation utilising standard Unilever methods

✓  Mousse shown to deliver lactam, durable to rinses, onto appliance surfaces

✓  Appliance surfaces exhibited marked microbial growth reduction

The technology is at TRL 5. Discussions are ongoing with Unilever plc in relation to their Global Laundry Division being a route to market for the Penrhos Bio machine cleaning products.

Marine

Biofilm formation is a substantial issue in the marine environment, both above
and below the water line.

stock-photo-man-washing-white-inflatable-boat-with-brush-and-pressure-water-system-at-garage-ship-service-and-1329482348

Above the water line, the challenging environment presents ideal conditions for bacteria, fungi and algae to thrive and biofilms to form.  The leisure craft market is booming and the requirement for products to ensure clean and hygienic surfaces is growing massively.

Lactams can be utilised in this environment in the same way as with household appliances, using proven spray or mousse formulations to deliver the lactam directly onto the surfaces.

✓  Mousse and spray formulations shown to deliver lactam, durable to rinses, onto surfaces

✓  Strong anti-algae & anti-fungal performance shown at low concentrations

The technology is at TRL 4. Suitable licence partners under review.

Below the water line, biofouling is a huge issue for all types of underwater assets; ships hulls, subsea energy structures, aquaculture farms and fishing nets, creating significant economic, ecological and environmental challenges.

stock-photo-pressure-washer-cleaning-boat-hull-barnacles-antifouling-and-seaweed-82057435

The accumulation of marine organisms on hulls over time can increase both hydrodynamic volume and hydrodynamic friction. This leads to increased drag which requires higher fuel consumption, therefore higher costs, to compensate and a consequently negative impact on the environment due to increased CO2 emissions. It also leads to significant opportunity costs as vessels are taken out of the water for cleaning and treatment.

As global shipping traffic increases, so too does the invasion of non-indigenous biofilm bacterial species into new geographical regions creating ecological issues with marine biodiversity.

Vast amounts are spent by shipping companies, marine energy and engineering companies as well as private leisure craft owners on anti-biofouling marine coatings. Many of these however are biocidal, containing heavy metals such as lead, copper and cadmium, all of which are now known to be harmful to marine life and may accumulate in the food chain.

For the past two years, Unilever (and now Penrhos Bio) has been working with the world-leading marine research facility, Plymouth Marine Laboratory; www.pml.ac.uk. This work has been investigating the use of lactam as a potential solution to inhibit marine biofouling.