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Researchers discover heat resistant gel compounds on the cheap

By Andrew McDougall , 28-Nov-2011
Last updated the 28-Nov-2011 at 16:46 GMT

Scientists in Spain have discovered a new family of compounds that enable formulators to develop gels more resistant to high temperatures at a scalable low cost, which have significant applications in the cosmetic industry amongst others.

Researchers from Universitat Jaume I (UJI), on the East Coast of Spain north of Valencia, patented the family of compounds that also enable to develop gels with a higher level of biocompatibility and able to work with a variety of organic solvents.

The gel has uses in cosmetic products such as various creams and shampoos, and the scientists claim these compounds have a jellifying action at low concentrations as well as being cheap.

Jellifying agent

A jellifying agent is a substance that when added to a liquid, it transforms it into ice. When the liquid used is water, it is called hydrogel. However if the solvents used are organic compounds, they are organogels, which have cosmetic application potential.

“Normally, when we develop a compound or family compounds able to form organogels, they only act in such a way in a very small number of solvents. The fundamental difference is that our group of compounds is capable of forming gels with a very high range of solvents,” explained chair professor Santiago Luis, from UJI.

Luis leads the group ‘Sustainable chemistry: supported reactants and catalysts. Supramolecular chemistry’ from the UJI, which made this discovery.

Stable at high temperatures

Another property discovered about the compound by Luis’ team, is its ability to maintain stability at temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius, thus allowing the products to keep their properties.

In addition, the researchers explain that the basic chemical structures that form compounds are amino acids, which provide products that are in most cases biocompatible.

“As they have units easily acceptable by the biological world, they don’t have incompatibility, allergies or toxicities problems," explained Luis.

This family of compounds also has significant applications in industries such as pharmaceuticals or the food industry.

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