Would you like to have a perfume that changes fragrance with your mood or activities? How about an automotive paint that heals itself when scratched or nicked?
These are not out of the realm of possibility in the near future thanks to the science of microencapsulation.
1. Develop Some Awesome New Home and Personal Care Products
Tiny microcapsules may soon make laundry easier and open up new possibilities for makeups, lotions and fragrances. For example, Battelle's Smart Laundry Capsule™ bead is a fully biodegradable microcapsule that allows bleach and an activator to be combined into one product for effective one-step cold water bleaching.
Similar technologies could transform other home and personal care products. How about a temperature-sensitive home fragrance formula that changes scent as the temperature rises? Or a time-release perfume that changes throughout the day?
2. Create Self-Healing Materials
Self-healing paints, coatings and cements could make maintenance easier and less expensive in the future, like Battelle's Smart Corrosion Detector™, which can be mixed into paints and coatings for infrastructure, pipelines and industrial equipment at risk for corrosion damage.
3. Deliver New Bio-Based Medicines
Microencapsulation is already in use by the pharmaceutical industry, but new encapsulation techniques could expand the possible uses for drug delivery and lead to exciting new therapies.
Microencapsulation could allow large molecules and biologics to survive the digestive tract—allowing, for example, oral versions of cancer therapies that currently must be delivered intravenously. Another use could be vaccine stabilization.
4. Make Safer, More Effective Agrochemicals
Encapsulation technology could have a lot of different uses for agribusiness. Microencapsulation could be used to combine incompatible ingredients into one shelf-stable product to reduce packaging and make storage and application more convenient.
It could also be used to reduce the amount of chemicals that farmers need to apply. Agricultural products could use microcapsules that open to deliver the product only when it rains, for example.
5. Remediate the Environment
Microencapsulation could also transform remediation methods. The oil and gas industry is already using oil-eating bacteria for oil spill clean up. Microencapsulation could make this technique more effective and convenient by creating shells that keep bacteria shelf-stable until they are released in the presence of hydrocarbons.