AquaLub (A new high-performance aqueous lubricant formulation for soft bio-contact surfaces) is a European Research Council Proof of Concept (ERC PoC) funded research project for 1.5 years (2020-22). In this ERC PoC project, an innovative aqueous lubricant technology, developed in the context of the ERC project LubSat will be translated for commercial applications.

The technological focus is on an electrostatically-driven macromolecular self-assembly of complex biopolymeric structures. Commercial aqueous lubricants market is significantly growing ($22 billion by 2025) with broad range of personal care and institutional care applications to enhance hydration and alleviate dryness-related pathologies of oral, ocular, vaginal, rectal and/or urethral tissues.

In this context, hydrophilic polymers are the standard materials that provide sub-optimal lubrication properties significantly impairing the quality of life. Taking inspiration from highly sophisticated bio-lubricant saliva, engineered by nature, we propose a novel technology exploiting the self-assembly of proteinaceous and non-proteinaceous biopolymeric structures to design a porous mesh that acts as a nano-reservoir of water to provide the fluid film lubrication whilst the hydrophobic attachment of the proteinaceous structures to the surface provide the boundary lubrication.

These dual-benefits have not been achieved by any commercial solutions to date. This patented technology allows for substantial improvements on enhancing lubrication and sustaining hydration of biological soft surfaces, over existing commercially-available approaches. In this project, we will validate the techno-commercial feasibility of the aqueous lubricant formulation in various formats and generate connections with key industrial players.

Key activities in the proposed project will ensure demonstration of the up-scaling feasibility and validation of performance, market research and IP protection, which will allow us to build strategic alliances with selected industrial partners, explore licensing of the IP to these partners, and build a robust business case to take forward the commercialization of this technology.

Follow us on the project website to receive updates on project outcomes.

Publications and outputs

Hu J, Andablo-Reyes E, Soltanahmadi S, Sarkar A. 2020. Synergistic Microgel-Reinforced Hydrogels as High-Performance Lubricants. ACS Macro Letters. 9, pp. 1726-1731

Project website