Collaborate to innovate
Immaterial are experts in porous materials. Learn about our latest projects, and how we build consortia capable of delivering real-world solutions.
A joint-development approach
Bringing a new solution to industry needs more than an interesting technology. It needs a range of expertise that changes as it develops, and it needs an ecosystem that is motivated to see it succeed. At Immaterial, we place as much emphasis on building those networks to support the project as we do on our own role as a material developer, ensuring what we create emerges fit for purpose to meet a demonstrated industry need. The boldest ideas seldom become reality off the back of a single organisation. We work on a joint development basis with partners, either one-to-one, or as part of a larger group we build.
browse our ongoing projects open for engagement:
Floating adsorbed natural gas
Providing a short-haul alternative to LNG to reduce flaring
We have broken the world record for natural gas storage using adsorbent materials, enabling us to store as much natural gas at 65 bar as is normally possible at 250 bar. We are working towards using this technology to curb gas flaring, an extremely wasteful practice in the oil industry, and reduce the 300 million tonnes of carbon it produces annually. Over 140 cubic kilometres of natural gas is flared every year. With funding from the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, we are working with Xodus, the University of Cambridge, and ten major oil companies to develop a marine transport solution incorporating MOFs for fields where subsea pipelines are not practical.
Automotive fuels and cabin filtration
Using MOFs to support a low-carbon transportation sector
Natural gas and hydrogen are both cleaner vehicle fuels than petrol and diesel, but as gases they are much harder to store. By storing the same quantity of gas at a fraction of the pressure, we can dramatically reduce the cost of the refuelling infrastructure and improve the safety of containing it. MOFs can be an important component in enabling these key bridge-fuels to a low carbon transportation sector. With funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre and technical support from the Department of Energy, we are working with a downstream gas supplier, an automotive OEM, and a major chemicals company to demonstrate the technology and move forward into vehicle prototyping.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
Reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling systems
Heating, ventilation and AC systems account for a staggering 10% of global energy consumption, and this is expected to continue to rise sharply as demand for climate-controlled spaces increases. Maintaining current technology, by 2050 we are projected to use as much energy air conditioning our buildings as the whole of China uses today. A major part of this is dehumidification, which either uses dew-pointing or crude adsorbents like silica gel, which has poor capacity and needs to be heated to >180 °C to regenerate. With the University of Cambridge, we have recently developed a material with far higher capacity which can regenerate at just 60 °C, potentially slashing energy requirements and running costs.
Controlled and targeted drug delivery
a platform for slow-release and targeted therapeutics
Critical to the success of any drug is its bioavailability in the target tissue while limiting off-target effects. Recently, drug delivery systems have promised highly specific targeting of cancerous or infected cells, but these carriers have inadequate loading capacity. Through Vector Biosciece Ltd, and in partnership with the University of Cambridge as part of two major EPSRC and ERC projects, we have demonstrated successful localisation, controlled release, and uptake of a MOF-based delivery system into target cells at over 100x the level of the free drug. The system is capable of supporting a wide range of therapeutics – including siRNA and CRISPR – and is versatile in how it can be modified by developers to suit the needs of the drug and its mechanism of action.
Interested in joining an existing project?
A stage-gated process to technology depolyment
Our ability to simulate material performance under specified conditions provides a powerful tool for qualifying solutions quickly. At a fraction of the cost and time of a laboratory study, we can show with confidence how a candidate will perform – both as a component and integrated into your system.
Bringing the solution to market is then an iterative process involving our own engineers, your in-house experts, and additional partners if and when needed. This is completely flexible, depending on the details of the project.
We secure a problem statement detailing the challenge, including operating temperatures, pressures, and chemical composition. We then screen thousands of materials computationally and present several candidates for progression to Phase 2.
We produce the top-performing monoliths, validate them in the lab, and send them to you for prototyping. If your team does not have a particular capability, we can assist with our own expertise and equipment, or together we can find a partner.
Once we have a minimum viable product, a final commercial agreement will be negotiated, the outline of which will have been in discussion since Phase 1.
With timelines established, we will begin preparing material production to meet demand. For smaller volumes, we may produce directly; for larger-scale orders, we may license or subcontract production to a manufacturing partner.
Let's discuss your new applications
How we work with manufacturing partners
When our materials are required in significant quantities, we outsource the production to one of our partners. We design our processes around upscaled manufacture, with off-the-shelf components and an informed understanding of how each transformation will scale.
This approach allows us to remain flexible, with our value derived from our expertise and our IP portfolio. By utilising established chemical partners rather than building ourselves, we both speed up the time to delivery and allow us to focus all our resources on delivering the best solutions possible.