Campus and Community

Técnico research projects awarded during the celebrations of World Materials Day 2020

Susana Farinha won the “Ordem dos Engenheiros” Award, which rewards the best Materials Engineering master's thesis. Bernardo Diniz and Helena Ferreira won honourable mentions.

Susana Farinha, chemical engineer (MSc) and Técnico PhD student, won the “Ordem dos Engenheiros” Award (€500) that rewards the best Materials Engineering master’s thesis. The award ceremony was organised by the Portuguese Materials Society (SPM) and by Ordem dos Engenheiros-Região Sul, on 4th November, during the celebrations of World Materials Day 2020. Bernardo Diniz, Técnico PhD student, and Helena Ferreira, Materials Engineering alumna (Integrated Master’s) were awarded honourable mentions of “Ordem dos Engenheiros” Award and SPM Award, respectively.

The master thesis “Benchmark of Particle Engineering Technologies for the Production of Biopharmaceuticals”, was carried out in collaboration with the Department of Chemical Engineering (DEQ) and Hovione has earned Susana Farinha the “Ordem dos Engenheiros” Award. “I am very proud to receive this award from Ordem dos Engenheiros: the association that represents all engineers in Portugal. The high quality of the Master’s theses reflects the prestige of this award and the importance of being recognised”, says the PhD student.

“This award is the result of teamwork. I have got so much to thank my supervisors, Dr. Cláudia Moura (Hovione) and professor Diná Afonso (DEQ), for their support, availability and patience”, highlights Susana Farinha. “I am also grateful to Hovione for providing me with excellent conditions to carry out my master’s dissertation”, adds the PhD student.

The research work awarded by Ordem dos Engenheiros aimed to explore the potential of Hot Melt Extrusion (HME) in sustained-release formulations with biopharmaceuticals. “My master’s thesis demonstrated that HME is an adequate technology to produce sustained release formulations with low molecular weight biopharmaceuticals”, explains Susana Farinha.

Biopharmaceuticals have gained relevance in the pharmaceutical industry due to their numerous advantages over conventional drugs. “However, due to their poor oral bioavailability, they are usually administered by injection, which reduces patient acceptance due to frequent injections”, explains Susana Farinha. “Sustained release formulations allow better control of drug release, reducing the need for frequent injections. However, they are usually produced by emulsions, requiring large amounts of organic solvents”, she adds.

Frequently used in the plastics industry, HME is a technology that has recently gained relevance in the pharmaceutical industry, and it’s an alternative method for the production of sustained release formulations. “Since it is a continuous process and does not use solvents, it eliminates the need for post-drying, which results in a smaller ecological footprint. However, this technology is not normally considered for biomolecules due to the high temperatures”.

After this innovative master’s thesis, the Técnico graduate was invited to work at Hovione and got a PhD Scholarship in business at Hovione. “I am a PhD student at Técnico and Hovione”, she mentioned.

Two master’s theses receive honourable mentions

Bernardo Diniz, materials engineer (MSc) and Técnico PhD student, won an honourable mention of Ordem dos Engenheiros Award, for his master’s thesis entitled “Novos revestimentos duros para fabrico e reparação de ferramentas por deposição assistida por laser”, supervised by professor Amélia Almeida (DEQ), professor Célio Pina (Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal – IPS) and engineer António Alcântara Gonçalves ( Director General at TeandM). “My dissertation involved a lot of work, namely the process analysis, characterisation and optimisation, since it deals with the study of material deposition by laser cladding”, said Bernardo Diniz, who is currently starting his PhD in Materials Engineering.

According to Helena Ferreira, “receiving this honourable mention from SMP was an excellent outcome of the work I developed at Técnico for five and a half years”. “It’s always good to be recognised, especially when it is the “first scientific research”, says the Técnico alumna. The research work entitled “New sulfides for thermoelectric applications”, was carried out at C2TN, and supervised by researchers António Gonçalves and Elsa Lopes. The work consisted in the preparation of three sulfide semiconductors by solid state techniques followed by hot-pressing, and heat treatment. The Técnico alumna is currently doing a PhD in Engineering at Swansea University, in Materials and Manufacturing field.