Collaboration chosen to develop portable waste converter

Nottingham University is part of a €1.5m SPRIN-D Challenge collaboration to develop a portable facility that converts waste into chemicals that can be used to make medical devices.


The SPRIN-D Challenge ‘Circular Biomanufacturing’ is a three-year competition hosted by the Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation in Germany. Over 50 groups applied, with eight selected for the first stage to develop novel bioprocessing techniques that are expected to contribute to a circular economy.

The MATERI-8 project will use bacteria to consume waste and convert it into acrylic molecules that can be mixed with other monomers to create polymers, that can be used in additive manufacturing to create medical devices. The team is planning to build a bespoke containerised system to enable local utilisation of the technology.

In a statement, Assistant Professor Sam Bryan, from Nottingham University’s Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, said: “Securing funding as part of the SPRIN-D challenge is an incredibly exciting step for this project, as it’s giving us the opportunity to turn our research into reality and make a real difference to countries that are swamped with waste but don’t have the facilities to deal with it.

“This next 12 months are going to be vital as we focus on proving the process can work. From there we’d look to progress to the next stage of the competition where we’d receive more funding to develop a continuous biomanufacturing system that will be able to make products via additive manufacturing printing techniques. We’ve got a great team that’s committed to turning waste into something useful rather than leaving it to pollute the planet, so to have been recognised and selected for that is something we’re incredibly proud of.”

During the first stage of the project, the group will focus on getting the bacteria to consume material mixtures from textiles, greenhouse cultivation by-products, and microplastics.

The full list of SPRIN-D awardees can be found here.