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Posted: February 26, 2010

Rhodia research collaboration to leverage academic and government resources for sustainable technologies

(Nanowerk News) Three prominent research organizations from academia, government and industry will focus their combined worldwide expertise to develop new, sustainable technologies in the field of soft condensed matter, a science at the interface of chemistry, biology, physics and nanotechnology.
Under a new, multi-year agreement announced this week in Paris and Philadelphia, specialty chemical producer Rhodia, the University of Pennsylvania and the French National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, or CNRS) formally launched a new international research collaboration called COMPASS (Complex Assemblies of Soft Matter). The COMPASS collaboration brings together a diverse team of world-class scientists with complimentary expertise for understanding, manipulating and creating novel soft materials.
Soft condensed matter consists of easily deformable materials that lie between solids and gases. Liquids, colloids, polymers, foams and gels are examples of soft materials.
Initial projects will explore renewable and sustainable ingredients for consumer products in home and personal care markets. Other projects will address broadly critical issues such as water scarcity for agriculture and novel printable electronic solutions for energy transfer and storage.
Additional exploratory research will create soft materials, such as fluids or gels, with unique properties based on various natural or synthetic ingredients. Researchers will focus on developing new materials with improved cost effectiveness and performance, novel functional attributes and sustainable technologies for application in a range of consumer products and industrial formulations, including as body wash, shampoo, paints, lubricants, viscosifiers and printable electronics.
Research will be conducted in Rhodia’s Center for Research and Technology in Bristol, Pa., and the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter at the University of Pennsylvania’s Materials Research and Scientific Engineering Center in Philadelphia. CNRS researchers will work at both locations. Up to 20 researchers will work in the collaboration.
Their activities will be fully integrated with other Rhodia research and development programs around the world, especially with those using the high throughput experimentation capabilities in the Laboratory of the Future (LOF) near Bordeaux, France.
“The COMPASS collaboration brings together some of the best research talent and facilities in the world,” according to Paul-Joël Derian, Rhodia’s vice president and worldwide director of research. “Together we are exploring practical research applications to improve the sustainability of everyday products. Equally important, we will concentrate on finding new solutions for critical challenges in agriculture and energy that affect the developing world as well as advanced societies.”
Dr. Arjun Yodh, James M. Skinner Professor of Science and director of the University’s Laboratory for Research of Soft Matter, welcomed the laboratory’s new international partnership with the renowned French research center, and an international industrial company. “Our research collaborations have always benefited from a multi-disciplinary approach. Now we can build on that approach to take advantage of major research capabilities well beyond our traditional boundaries. It’s an exciting opportunity for us.”
That sentiment is shared by Dr. Gilberte Chambaud, director, Institute of Chemistry, CNRS. “For many years, the CNRS and Rhodia have built a genuine working tradition within their three common laboratories,” she said. “The combination of research forces and the mixing of different cultures bring a high potential of innovation to the partnership. Today, this experience is strengthened by the association with a prestigious U.S. university: the University of Pennsylvania. This new adventure will certainly constitute a significant benefit for our researchers.”
In addition to the Bristol and Bordeaux laboratories, Rhodia also operates a network of research centers in Paris and Lyon, France; in Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Shanghai, opened last year. Paris-based Rhodia also operates at 18 locations in the United States and 70 sites worldwide. North American headquarters is in Cranbury, N.J.
Rhodia is an international chemical company resolutely committed to sustainable development. As a leader in its businesses, the Group aims to improve its customers’ performance through the pursuit of operational excellence and its ability to innovate. Structured around six Enterprises, Rhodia is the partner of major players in the automotive, refining, electronics, flavors and fragrances, health, personal and home care markets, consumer goods and industrial markets. The Group employs 13,600 people worldwide and generated sales of €4.03 billion in 2009. Rhodia is listed on Euronext Paris.
Source: Rhodia
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