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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H034420/1
Principal Investigator: Dove, Professor AP
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Warwick
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 14 June 2010 Ends: 13 December 2012 Value (£): 232,810
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Chemical Biology
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
EP/H034838/1 EP/H035206/1
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
People share a common desire to wear clean clothes, regardless of their wealth or nationality. Current detergent formulations are a complex mixture of reagents, but in terms of their cleaning composition can broadly be considered to contain (i) surfactants to solubilise fabric-based stains; (ii) enzymes to digest stains and (iii) bleaches to degrade and increase the hydrophillicity of coloured stains. Typically, these formulations require non-ambient temperature water to be effective. There is a clear societal, economic and environmental benefit to developing cold water cleaning technology for example in the developed world the significant reduction in energy requirements will have economic benefit to users and the UK economy by reducing energy bills associated with heating water (UK government statistics suggest that the average UK washing machine is used for 270 wash cycles per year with each cycle using 16 L of water. The cost of heating that water (assuming 10 p/kWh and 2.4 M households) is estimated to be in the order of 184 million); this reduction in energy demand will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power generation. A significant problem associated with washing at lower temperatures is the solidification of fats and oils, often in crystallised forms below 35 oC, preventing their facile removal from fabrics. While the technological problems of cleaning in cold water are many-fold, ultimately it is the limited performance of the bleaching catalysts and enzymes at these temperatures that are major contributors to the problem.Several technical issues must be addressed to overcome these issues. A key element is the inefficient operation of enzymes and bleaching agents under these conditions. While there are several aspects to consider, the incompatibility of enzymes both with other enzymes and metal-based bleaching catalysts, the self-destruction of bleaching catalysts as well as the requirement to operate at high pH (that is in part driven of the need to activate bleaching compounds), limit the application and performance of the most aggressive formulations. The proposal will focus on the development of technology that enables these, currently incompatible technologies to be applied together under operating conditions that are more consistent with their efficient operation in a way that will prevent deleterious interactions.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.warwick.ac.uk