An independent product and technology development and licensing company near Cambridge in the UK has launched a propellant-free electronic aerosol technology, TouchSpray, claimed to offer such significant advantages over “traditional” propellant-based and trigger-spray designs that it will eventually replace them.
The Technology Partnership (TTP) claims current aerosol technology’s performance is limited, “due to a high variability in delivered droplet sizes that impact on the way the spray performs in application, and dependence on the amount of propellant left in the can”. Its patented TouchSpray technology, in contrast, provides electronic control, for “precise, consistent droplet size”.
Very narrow droplet distribution at the touch of a button is another claimed advantage; flow rate can be electronically controlled and plume shape customised; small droplets can, for instance, be delivered in a wide, soft spray for personal care products, or larger droplets with a direct, focussed spray or surface cleaning or coating applications.
TTP believes the technology, whose development was partly driven by pressure on brand owners to remove “unnecessary” chemicals from household products, will significantly impact new product design in consumer packaging. “Alongside enabling delivery of concentrated liquids, making the packaging more compact, the flexible form factor and unpressurised reservoir will enable manufacturers to move away from the traditional cylindrical metal can typically used with aerosols to design innovative products in new shapes and materials,” it says. The company also believes coming years will see growing pressure and even legislative moves to limit propellant use in aerosol manufacture, a phenomenon it says is already apparent in the US.
At TouchSpray’s heart is an ultrasonically vibrating perforated metal/ceramic disc incorporating a low profile piezoelectric actuator and a thin, perforated membrane, the latter manufactured via a laser micro-machining technique developed to produce an array of precision, micro-sized nozzles. The actuator is driven at ultrasonic frequencies, causing the membrane to vibrate, which “ejects millions of precisely-sized droplets each second”. TouchSpray has already been successfully used in the medical sector, for instance by Germany’s Pari in its nebulisers used for treating illnesses like cystic fibrosis.
James McCrone, a consultant at TTP says: “The processes used to produce the piezoelectric discs are well-established and inexpensive; the devices can be made in millions at low cost, and our system requires only slight adaptation of existing manufacturing methods. With recent changes in consumer opinion toward acceptance of batteries in the FMCG goods market we felt the time was right to push this product and generate more interest in developing it for the key markets.
“My perception also is that legislators in some countries, and most notably the US, would eventually like use of propellants like butanes in aerosols phased out on environmental grounds. However this could effectively only happen once viable alternative dispensing systems are available; with TouchSpray we believe we have developed one.”
The Technology Partnership
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