This newly discovered technology is the latest in the rising number of breakthroughs around the world using the VFD or the Vortex Fluidic Device. Invented by Professor Colin Raston and his research team at Flinders University in South Australia, the VFD has been called a game-changer for applications across different science fields because of its ability to create a range of novel nanomaterials without the use of toxic or harsh chemicals in the manufacturing process.
Applications have ranged from graphene production, protein folding, slicing carbon nanotubes, biofuel conversion, and drug delivery. Flinders Institute for NanoScale Science and Technology researcher Nikita Joseph said that the most recent trial to enhance fish oil processing had opened new possibilities for the Vortex Fluidic Device.
"Using the Vortex Fluidic Device can encapsulate fish oil with a simpler process than it's conventionally used," Joseph said.
"There is a possibility to produce smaller particles through this method, which may enhance people's absorption of fish oil."
"Through this processing, we aim to improve the omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. This is important in processing new formulations for the food industry with improved health benefits."
The researchers found that the device can simplify water-in-oil-in-water encapsulation into one process and allows scientists to practice control over the particle size. By changing the rotational speed, tilt the angle, change the concentrations and the ratio of components, adjust the temperature and the flow rates of the VFD, they were able to vary their choice of phospholipids and combinations, changing the nature of the fish oil.
Professor Raston said the small particle fish oil was only one example of the potential VFDs offered. "We have only scratched the surface about what is possible for this device"
In 2015, they used the device to unboil an egg and they were awarded an Ig Nobel Award for creating the VFD. There are now around 30 VFDs around the world, with more being made by 2-D Fluidics Pty Ltd, a company that is owned by Flinders University and First Graphene.
While the VFD is being used in countries including China and the UK for nutraceuticals, cosmetics, food processing, and pharmaceuticals, Professor Raston said he would particularly like to see VFDs used to target drug delivery and reduce the side effects of medications.
"I'm very passionate about that because... [it's] not only reducing side effects, or even eliminating side effects, but most drugs that we take end up in sewage because the body only uses a small amount," he said.
"For every kilogram of drug that you buy over the counter you've got to imagine there's half a ton of waste sitting on the planet somewhere that went into making it.
"And so working out ways of making the drug molecules themselves without generating the waste is also a big ticket item for the VFD."
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