The Power of Powder for New Applications
When air is introduced into powder, the powder develops many of the properties of liquids. It’s similar to what happens when grain is loaded into freighters: When the grain is propelled in a stream through the air, it flows like a liquid.
Dr. Jesse Zhu, Canada Research Chair in Particle Technology and its Applications in the Chemical/Biochemical, Materials and Pharmaceutical Industry, is making the most of powder's fluid-like properties.
Zhu is working to develop new technologies such as aerated drug powders that can be inhaled, an approach that reduces the waste involved in oral intake and is more convenient than injection by needle. He is also working on powdered paint for cars and other coatings that eliminates the environmentally-hazardous solvent emissions found in liquid paint.
In addition, Zhu plans to replace liquid coating with powder coating for all tablets, which would lead to a revolutionary change in the pharmaceutical industry, dramatically reduce energy consumption and result in significant savings. As well, Zhu is developing a highly-concentrated wastewater treatment process that uses a suspended powdered biological media, which is many times more efficient and uses much less land than the current open pond process.
Zhu’s research could lead to powder being used for a number of cost-saving, new applications that reduce waste, save energy and are environmentally-friendly.