ERC Proof of Concept grant for Valeria Garbin

News - 14 July 2022 - Communication TNW

Valeria Garbin, Associate Professor at the department of Chemical Engineering, has received a Proof of Concept grant from the European Research Council (ERC) last May, to develop her acoustic-bubble microrheology (ABuMic) method into a commercial instrument. This method enables researchers to probe the properties of liquid formulations – such as shampoo, mayonnaise, inks and paints – in manufacturing conditions. The typical flow conditions of manufacturing processes are mostly inaccessible with existing measuring devices. The ERC awarded the Proof of Concept funding to Garbin along with 54 other principal investigators across Europe.

The ABuMic project aims to address a critical challenge of our society: the transition of formulated products to a safer and more sustainable industry. There is increasing pressure on the chemical industry, both from the public opinion and regulatory bodies, for healthier food products and more environmentally friendly paints and coatings. As a result, in the coming years many products will need to be re-formulated and harmful ingredients removed. Changes to formulations always come at a huge cost for the chemical industry, because by and large, product development is still done by trial-and-error.

The ABuMic method provides accurate measurements that help predict formulation performance for rapid screening of new products.  Many manufacturing processes produce flow conditions that are not accessible with existing methods for the measurement of materials. With the ABuMic method, these conditions can be produced under a microscope using ultrasound waves. A formulation scientist would then be able, for instance, to immediately identify formulations that would not perform as expected during manufacturing and application. Therefore, this method could help to lower the cost of new product development, and support the transition to healthier and more sustainable products.

About the ERC and the PoC grant

The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects in Europe. The ERC also strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to work in Europe.

Proof of Concept funding is part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe. The grants are worth up to €150,000 each and open to ERC grantees only, so that the grantees can apply for top-up funding for their existing or recently completed research projects. Grant holders can for example verify the practical viability of scientific concepts, explore business opportunities, or prepare patent applications.


Read the press release by the ERC here