The control of ice nucleation is key to improving the efficacy of a wide range of industrial processes, from cryo-storage of stem cells to making ice cream. In many of these processes, liquid water will cool well below its melting point temperature before freezing (see http://tinyurl.com/k6hfflq), which can result in the death of cells, leading to failure of cryopreservation, for example. When making ice cream, the key to an appealing product is to have many small ice crystals of uniform size which is often not achieved if nucleation is left to chance. Hence, there is a demand for materials which catalyse ice formation and are compatible with a range of industrial processes.
In our work on atmospheric ice-nucleating particles we have discovered certain materials which are exceptionally good at nucleating ice; these discoveries offer a new route to controlling ice-nucleation. Through the IceControl project, working in conjunction with cryopreservation specialists Asymptote Ltd, we aim to optimise delivery and manufacture of ice nucleants, assess regulatory issues, carry out trials, and develop a business plan in order to identify and exploit markets.