The proposal for the creation of the Centre for Research in Product Technology and Chemical Processes (Pro2TecS) arose in 2011 of the finding, by the member researchers, of a growing industrial interest in processes and products related to the processing industry (chemistry, biochemistry, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, building materials, etc.). Such products, usually multiphase and multicomponent, with certain characteristics that make it acceptable by the consumer, are characterized by their high added value and/or looking for the valorisation of by-products and waste and the use of raw materials or renewable resources, all through processes that minimize discharges, imply a saving energy and, as a whole, promote the development of clean and sustainable technologies. This proposal emanates from two research groups that compose the Centre looking for synergies and common lines of research. Creation memory of Pro2TecS was reported favourably by the legal counsel of the University of Huelva in November 2011, being finally approved the creation of the Centre in the meeting of the Government Council of the University of Huelva, 12/20/2011.
PRODUCT ENGINEERING is a relatively new subject within the field of chemical engineering, which seeks to focus competencies specific to this area of knowledge, not only towards the processes of production, as traditionally it has been done, but particularly to the characteristics and properties of the final product. This requires a considerable development of multidisciplinary knowledge and its enhancement in a wide variety of products, usually complex. Thus, the description of complex products include non-Newtonian fluids (which exhibit nonlinear viscous behavior and/or viscoelastic properties), granular media, multi-component systems, multiphase, etc., covering, therefore, a wide range of materials such as polymers (thermoplastics, elastomers, composites), suspensions, emulsions, foams, gels, micellar phases and liquid-crystallines, fused materials, complex matrices from biomass, etc. Such materials are processed or participate in any way in industries such as plastics and rubber industries, ceramics, food, agrochemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and detergents, varnishes and paints, lubricants, inks, adhesives, cellulose pulp and paper, building materials, etc. Many of the changes that take place during the manufacture, processing or storage of these products require a characterization of its physical-chemical properties (microstructural, rheological, interfacial, etc.). In addition, an increasingly accepted and recognized feature among professionals in such industries is the importance that the knowledge of the rheological properties of these materials has regarding their industrial applications, since they provide a valuable information that can be used in the design of products presenting a specific properties that determine the acceptance by consumers, in the design of basic operations and processes, in applications involving some sort of thermal or mechanical treatment or even in the control of quality and stability of products. Characterization of microstructure, rheology, mechanical properties, etc., of these products is required to optimize both the conditions of processing and formulation thereof.
In this context, the existence of Pro2Tecs is justified by the scientific interest at the level of applied research and transfer of knowledge and technology shown by different industrial sectors in this area, as well as the innovative character of these products and manufacturing processes.