PCMs, or phase change materials, act as thermal regulators depending on the thermal conditions of the environment. There are PCMs of inorganic and organic nature, but the latter are based on polymers which are more stable and capable of storing and releasing greater amounts of energy. This behavior occurs with the reversible phase change material (PCMs), such that heat absorbed or released when the material passes from solid to liquid and vice versa. When the temperature rises and the temperature of phase change reaches the PCM melts absorbing heat from the environment, while when the temperature drops below the temperature of phase change, solidifies releasing heat. Most of PCMs on the market are presented encapsulated. Regardless of (liquid or solid) state of the PCM, the nanocapsule containing it remains in solid state providing protection and preventing release.
This type of product has been developed for a variety of applications, such as cooling systems, energy sustainable buildings, aerospace coatings, paints interior, smart textiles.
Laurentia technologies has developed a line of products based on PCMs with thermoregulatory capacity and improving energy efficiency and product application in different sectors. This same technology can be adapted to the design of different applications by appropriately selecting the temperature range in which to exercise regulatory properties.
The main difference Laurentia technology over other products is the siliceous capsule thanks to its higher thermal conductivity improves the storage capacity and energy release. In addition it is more resistant to potential problems of breakage during handling or processing of the material capsules.
Currently, TiO2 and ZnO are the photocatalysts more commonly used as depollutant agents (organic matter degradation, NOx, etc) in different applications: water treatment, ambient purifier (paints, construction materials). However, they require UV radiation for its activation, which means a disadvantage to achieve a maximum effectiveness, because of the relatively low UV radiation coming from the sun (3-5%). This is a limitation for the use of these photocatalysts in dark places or indoor applications.
Laurentia Technologies and the University of Cordoba are collaborating in the development and application of Fe2O3 as photocatalyst active under visible light radiation. Fe2O3 in its a-crystalline form (hematite), has a band gap of 2.2 eV, and therefore, it is able to absorb radiation till 600 nm. Besides the low price of the a-Fe2O3, it shows interesting physical and chemical properties, which justify the potential use for a high number of applications. a-Fe2O3 shows high corrosion resistance, non toxicity, environmentally friendly, biocompatible and it is possible to obtain it in different nanostructures (nanoparticles, nanocubes, nanospheres, etc.).
The design of the a-Fe2O3 nanostructures for incorporation in different materials and substrates, and its use as photocatalyst active under visible radiation in different sectors of science and technology are the objective of current research in Laurentia Technologies.
Mesoporous silica materials have been developed for the controlled release of bioactive molecules, as catalysts in the synthesis of essential nutrients, as sensors to detect unhealthy products etc., with many applications in food technologies. The use of mesoporous silica supports as catalysts in the synthesis of nutrients and as sensors for the detection of unhealthy products, essential in food, is in great demand industrially for the manufacture of functional foods and films for food and industrial packaging.
Laurentia Technologies is promoting a proposal with the Spanish center IDM (Centro de Reconocimiento Molecular y Desarrollo Tecnológico) for implementing those systems in innovative protocols of molecular recognition and detection, where a concrete stimulus causes the opening of a gate-like scaffold and then the release of an indicator.
Controlled release process is performed by a storage system (silica nanoparticles MCM-41) capable of releasing chemical species through gate-like scaffoldings which control the release by using stimuli (presence of certain anions, pH changes, temperature, redox reactions and light irradiation, ...). Furthermore, the silica supports can be functionalized with molecules of biological nature as sugars, antibodies, peptides, oligonucleotides, able to be released by hydrolysis mechanisms caused by enzymes, by the presence of a complementary oligonucleotide, by specific antigen, etc.
The gate opening is selective. Only for the desired analyte. Few analyte molecules control the release of a large amount of the indicator from the pores. Moreover, this approach separates the recognition process from the sensor event, which makes the signal independent of the stoichiometry of the complex.
Having held various research works applied to controlled release of dyes and / or fluorophores and checking operation through a color change or by increasing the emission signal, the IDM has focused on the controlled release of bioactive molecules (vitamins, antioxidants, hormones, anticancer, etc.) which are of great interest in the field of nutrition, biochemistry, pharmacology and medicine.
By introducing functional siloxane groups in an organic polymer and subsequent polymerization of those siloxane groups by sol-gel reactions, organic-inorganic hybrid coatings can be
obtained. These coatings have a covalent interaction between organic and inorganic fraction that gives it great consistency and special properties:
Laurentia Technologies has started a collaboration with the Centre for Molecular Recognition and Technological Development (IDM-UPV) for the industrial scale of strip or smart tags based on colorimetric sensors that indicate the status of food.
These devices are integrated into the food’s packaging, being present throughout the distribution cycle, storage and transportation. Thus the safety and quality of products are controlled until they reach the end consumer.
The optical sensor is a nanoscopic matrix where is introduced a dye, which is released (providing a color) in the presence of substances that determine the loss of properties of food. Therefore act with a color change upon detection of certain acids, amines or mycotoxins released by food.
Through a visual change, consumers and the food industry can be alerted on the product status establishing a precise lifetime. So the package itself will be the report of pollution or degradation of the product throughout the processing cycle.