LION Corporation, one of Japan’s largest multinational companies will be working with A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) to develop safer, anti-odour and anti-bacteria household products that eliminate the use of harmful biocides.
Singapore—A*STAR scientists and LION Corporation are using a multi-purpose, highly customisable molecule and all natural material formulations to develop products that keep laundry smelling fresh and kill bacteria, without relying on chemical biocides that are found in some current household products. Such a move also prevents the growth of biocide-resistant bacteria in the long run. Legislation is being debated in the USA to ban such biocides in the in the future.
LION, a major manufacturer of detergents, soaps, medications, oral hygiene products and other toiletries, will leverage IMRE’s technology to develop new improved formulations for their products. The company signed a Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA) with IMRE to develop this technology. This agreement is the first of its kind for LION in Singapore. Both organisations are also looking to set up a joint laboratory at IMRE where scientists from IMRE and LION can work on the project together.
Most household products are a mix of surfactants for removing dirt, fragrance enhancers and chemical biocides to kill germs. Some of the surfactants and chemical biocides ultimately leach into the environment through water run-off. IMRE has been working on a host of all-purpose, natural polymers that are more environmentally friendly as part of IMRE’s Consumer Care Technology Programme. The multi-purpose molecule being used in the project is one of more than a hundred proprietary molecules that IMRE has accumulated in its fast-growing polymer bank.
The specially created polymer molecules and materials used in the project are unique to IMRE,” says the lead IMRE researcher for the project, Dr Loh Xian Jun, who is also the Programme Manager for A*STAR’s Personal Care Programme. Dr Loh explains that the highly stable and customisable base polymer molecule can be “accessorised” with different polymer chains to suit different purposes. Such base polymers form the backbone for a multitude of different molecular combinations that can be tailor-made to suit different functions, from anti-bacteria to fragrance-enhancement, in one molecule. “We are building a library of such multi-purpose molecules that can be pulled out at any time to cater to specific needs of different companies.
“LION has been promoting its international operations with a focus on Asia, and we have been keeping our eye on Singapore as a regional R&D hub,” says Dr Toshio Kakui, Director and Executive Officer of LION Corporation. “A*STAR’s IMRE, a research institute with first-rate polymer technologies, has a good reputation and has collaborated with a variety of companies around the world. Therefore, LION is confident that this research collaboration with IMRE will lead to an enhancement of LION’s own technological capabilities and development of innovative products.”
“People know LION because their products penetrate almost every household, from detergents to shampoo, and from mouthwash to toothpaste. Isn’t it a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with a company as innovative and successful as LION?” says Prof Andy Hor, Executive Director of IMRE. “This is how we see the benefit of research in polymers and gels – shaping lives and improving living”.
The research team expects development of the new formulation to be completed by the second half of 2015.
 Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use; Proposed Amendment of the Tentative Final Monograph; Reopening of Administrative Record; A proposed rule by the US Food and Drug Administration; 17 December 2013.
Made-in-Singapore materials for safer and better household products
Caption: For safer and better household products – IMRE’s specially developed highly customisable, multi-purpose molecule formulation may find application in a range of LION’s household products.
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About the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) is a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). The Institute has capabilities in materials analysis & characterisation, design & growth, patterning & fabrication, and synthesis & integration. We house a range of state-of-the-art equipment for materials research including development, processing and characterisation. IMRE conducts a wide range of research, which includes novel materials for organic solar cells, photovoltaics, printed electronics, catalysis, bio-mimetics, microfluidics, quantum dots, heterostructures, sustainable materials, atom technology, etc. We collaborate actively with other research institutes, universities, public bodies, and a wide spectrum of industrial companies, both globally and locally.
For more information about IMRE, please visit www.imre.a-star.edu.sg.
About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.
In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore’s manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.
A*STAR oversees 18 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR’s research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories.