South Dakota Patent of the Month – March 2021

Hydrogels are made of crosslinked hydrophilic polymer chains, creating a highly absorbent solid. They can be used in cell culturing, tissue engineering, drug carriers and many other ways. Cellulose-based membranes are very common as cellulose is non-toxic and easy to work with. However, it swells when wet which can alter the functionality of the hydrogel. In certain applications, this swelling requires altering pressure in the system – but this can degrade the membrane or hydrogel faster. Nanopareil, LLC produces cutting-edge separation media (membranes and hydrogels) composed of functionalized nanofibers. They are developing a method to modify the crosslinking which can reduce swelling of the cellulose.

Their method uses multi-functional carboxylic acids to enhance the cross-linking of cellulose. This novel porous cellulosic material has a greater binding capacity and results in improved filtration and durability. The binding capacity helps the hydrogel to hold it’s shape during absorption which means less swelling. These modifications help to easily remove the limitations faced by hydrogel use, creating a more efficient product overall.

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