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Medical Applications of Carbon Dioxide Solvent Technology

Seminary by Professor Michael A. Matthews

Professor of Chemical Engineering and Vice Dean Senior Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Programs
College of Engineering & Computing
University of South Carolina
Fellow of the American Chemical Society
Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers

Martedì 18 Dicembre 2018, ore 10.30
Sala Grande del Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale, Via Venezia 1, Padova


Supercritical fluids, most notably carbon dioxide, are a solvent platform behind many processes that have implications for medical practice. Research has been directed at both fundamental understanding and commercial development. Among the applications are sterilization and disinfection (of surgical instruments, implants, or pharmaceutical ingredients), formation of particles and foams (for pharmaceutical ingredients, implantable devices, or tissue scaffolds), and medical cleaning. In our lab we have also looked at two new applications: deactivation and removal of asthma triggers, and decellularization of xenograft tissue scaffolds. Successful commercial development requires basic research (for instance, on the biological mechanisms of sterilization, engineering phenomena including mass transport, and materials science and engineering) as well as the barriers to adoption, typified in the so-called "Iron Triangle". These all play a role in determining feasibility of application of supercritical fluids to a given medical or pharmaceutical product. We will outline current scientific knowledge concerning important mechanisms, engineering phenomena, and materials science underlying supercritical fluid sterilization. We will also discuss commercial applications, including our own recent efforts. The goal of this seminar is to enable those in the field to identify opportunities for commercializing the technology, and to recognize the various challenges associated with different combinations of medical needs and product commercialization.

Professor Matthews teaches and conducts research in the broad field of thermodynamics, with projects related to hydrogen storage in chemical hydrides, biomedical engineering, and green chemistry. He has raised over $5M in research funding and has published approximately 70 journal papers. Two major research thrusts are underway in his group. The first deals with applications of supercritical carbon dioxide for biomedical applications. Funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has focused on development of novel technology for sterilization and disinfection of synthetic and natural biomaterials. Funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is aimed at abatement of indoor allergenic proteins and other respiratory hazards. Professor Matthews has founded CarboNix LLC with the aid of three SBIR grants from the NIEHS. The second thrust is in utilization of chemical hydrides as a hydrogen storage medium, with application in PEM fuel cells. Funding from NSF and DOE has led to expanded understanding of the role of deliquescence in the reaction between water vapor and sodium borohydride. In addition, improved understanding of the hydration states of the reaction products is important in decreasing the total water utilization in this reaction.