Research Foundation News

March 10, 2020

Chemistry startup ready to take unique Purdue adhesive technology to the market

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A novel underwater adhesive technology, based on a glue used naturally by marine creatures, soon may provide a safer adhesive option for industries ranging from biomedical to aerospace.

Mussel Polymers Inc. (MPI)a startup created by Wardenclyffe Chemicals Inc., a technology development company – has licensed this patented adhesive technology from the Purdue Research Foundation. The technology was created by Jonathan Wilker, a Purdue professor of chemistry and materials engineering, with students in his laboratory.

mussel-teflon Photo Caption: A mussel holds onto a Teflon sheet by a tiny strand. Mussel Polymers Inc. (MPI) – a startup created by Wardenclyffe Chemicals Inc., a technology development company – is ready to take sea-inspired adhesives from Purdue to market. (Image provided)

The adhesive is called poly(catechol-styrene), or PCS. It was engineered to mimic the glue that mussels naturally use to attach to substrates in the ocean, and represents the first new adhesive chemistry to reach the market in decades.

The research effort that led to the development of PCS lasted over a decade and was supported with $2 million from the Office of Naval Research.

“We have been studying sea creatures, how they stick, and designing synthetic mimics of these materials,” Wilker said. “Now we are quite excited to move these new materials from the research lab into the marketplace. There is potential here to impact several industries, including products that people use in their daily lives.”

The team behind Mussel Polymers Inc. licensed the technology through the Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org.

“The entire Purdue Research Foundation and OTC teams were extraordinary in helping us move through the process of licensing this technology, laying the groundwork for taking it to market,” said George Boyajian, CEO of Wardenclyffe. “The adhesive technology addresses a range of previously unsolvable wet adhesion problems in a variety of industries from biomedical to aerospace to automotive to cosmetics and construction.”

Brooke Beier, vice president of the Office of Technology Commercialization, said, “The Mussel Polymers team has done the research and has the resources to take this novel Purdue technology to the next level through the market to industries and customers. It is another success story from the Purdue commercialization ecosystem.”

Wardenclyffe recently received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop this adhesive system for use in the restoration of coral reefs.

For more information on working with Mussel Polymers, contact Jason Stieg, chief business development officer, at stieg@wardenchem.com.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. OTC recently moved into the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.    

About Mussel Polymers Inc.

Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, MPI is now developing a range of new high performance underwater adhesive and sealant products using PCS technology. Not only can these materials solve a range of wet adhesions problems, but they are also exceptionally strong nontoxic dry adhesives. The company is currently in product development programs with several clients and is raising Series-A funding to accelerate commercial development. For business development discussions, please contact Jason Stieg at stieg@wardenchem.com.  For other inquiries, please contact George Boyajian, CEO, at boyajian@wardenchem.com.

Writer: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, cladam@prf.org 

Sources: Jonathan Wilker, wilker@purdue.edu

George Boyajian, boyajian@wardenchem.com

Brooke Beier, blbeier@prf.org

Note to Journalists: A YouTube video is available at https://youtu.be/2l2p46XMMuk and other multimedia can be found in a Google Drive folder at https://goo.gl/3szOnW. The materials were prepared by Erin Easterling, digital producer for Purdue’s College of Engineering.


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