North Carolina Patent of the Month – February 2024

Biodegradable composite colloidal particle formulations have emerged as a promising solution in diverse sectors, addressing challenges in energy, construction, environmental remediation, agriculture, and healthcare. Within this innovative landscape, BENANOVA Inc. has introduced a novel method for creating these formulations, focusing on plant disease prevention and treatment.

BENANOVA is an R&D company which spun out from NC State University. The company directs their expertise to the development of eco-friendly, functionally active, and sustainable materials. Colloidal micro- and nano-particles have experienced some limitations as a result of concerns about their potential post-utilization persistence. By using bio-renewable and biodegradable feed stock, BENANOVA aims to address this limitation head on.

The patented method involves a meticulous process of creating a composite colloidal particle formulation. Engineered biodegradable particle cores are formed by contacting an ethanol-based solvent containing dissolved biopolymer with an anti-solvent, creating a core structure. This core is then dispersed in a bioadhesive polyelectrolyte solution, featuring chitosan, resulting in a fully biodegradable composite colloidal particle formulation.

This invention brings environmental sustainability to the forefront, utilizing biorenewable and biodegradable feedstock biopolymers such as cellulose, hemicellulose, lignocellulose, or lignin. The integration of lignin, the most abundant terrestrial aromatic biopolymer, presents a unique advantage. Lignin, sourced through processes like Kraft pulping or “organosolv” extraction, contributes to the advanced performance properties and functionality of the formulation.

The inclusion of chitosan, a cationic bioadhesive polyelectrolyte, serves a dual purpose in stabilizing the colloidal formulation and enhancing its adherence to plant surfaces. This formulation, ranging from 10 nm to 500 nm in diameter, displays remarkable stability over time, as confirmed by hydrodynamic diameter measurements and transmission electron microscopy.

Further enhancing the functionality, the colloidal particles can be functionalized with metal ions, such as copper ions, known for their antimicrobial properties. This feature broadens the application spectrum, particularly in agriculture, where it can effectively combat bacterial and fungal plant pathogens.

In vitro testing demonstrates the efficacy of the composite colloidal particle formulations against both copper-sensitive and copper-tolerant strains of Xanthomonas perforans, a bacterial pathogen causing devastating diseases in plants. The formulations exhibit potent antimicrobial activity, surpassing traditional copper-based bactericides.

Moving from the laboratory to the field, the composite colloidal particle formulations prove their mettle in real-world scenarios. Field trials, conducted with and without bacterial inoculation, reveal significant reductions in bacterial spot disease severity. Treatments incorporating lignin particles with chitosan outperform standard copper-based treatments, showcasing the formulations’ potential in sustainable and effective plant disease management.

As the agricultural industry grapples with the need for eco-friendly solutions, BENANOVA’s invention opens new avenues for advanced, sustainable, and efficient plant disease prevention and treatment. The scalability and stability of the formulation promise a positive impact on crop yields, environmental conservation, and the overall well-being of the agricultural ecosystem.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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