This is one of the most amazing scientific developments to date. It simultaneously tackles the provision of affordable, durable prosthetic limbs and the environmental issue of using recycled plastic bottles.

What is the innovation?

De Montford University’s senior Mechanical Engineering lecturer, Dr Karthikeyan Kandan is the leader of this incredible innovation. He has discovered how to turn plastic bottles into a different material that can become sockets for prosthetic limbs.

Simplification of the process:

  • Plastic water bottles are ground down into granules
  • This is spun into “polyester yarns”
  • When heated these yarns become a lightweight solid
  • This is molded into the required socket shape

The cost saving alone is astonishing. Currently, the average cost of a socket for a prosthetic limb is £5,000. Dr Kandan predicts that using his new method will reduce this to £10. Yes, just £10.00.

He said: “Upcycling of recycled plastics and offering affordable prosthesis are two major global issues that we need to tackle. We wanted to develop a prosthetic limb that was cost effective yet comfortable and durable for amputee patients. There are so many people in developing countries who would really benefit from quality artificial limbs but unfortunately cannot afford them. The aim of this project was to identify cheaper materials that we could use to help these people, and that’s what we have done.”

What do the patients think of their new limbs?

Two patients have trialed the new recycled plastic sockets. Both live in India, one has a below knee amputation, the other an above the knee. Dr Kandan worked with the biggest disabled rehab organisation in the world, the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahavata Samiti (BMVSS), which is based in Jaipur.

He said: “Both patients were really impressed – they said the prosthetic was lightweight and easy to walk with, and that it allowed air to flow to the rest of their leg, which is ideal for the hot climate in India.”

Relevant figures

Sometimes the numbers are just really useful to give us the wider context. One of them has already been referenced, but really bears repeating. These are all from DMU’s own article about their pioneering invention.

  • People buy 1 million plastic water bottles every minute, worldwide
  • 7% of plastic water bottles are recycled
  • 100 million people in the world are living with an amputation
  • Two major causes of amputation are road traffic accidents and diabetes
  • Current cost of prosthetic socket – £5,000. Cost of new recycled plastic one – £10.

Collaboration

Dr Kandan also enlisted expertise from several other organisations during this R&D, including: University of Strathclyde, University of Salford, University of Southampton and Malaviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur.

What’s next?

Trails are now being expanded to different types of amputees in different countries. This will allow Dr Kandan and his team to prepare a process that can make individualised prostheses for each patient.

Why we are interested

If you are involved in making similar mind blowing scientific discoveries, we want to help you. Only in a very small way. We want to make sure that you have the money to continue with your research.

R&D tax relief is available to British limited companies that invest in scientific and technological R&D projects. Even if you get grant funding, you can still be eligible.

It’s a tricky section of the tax relief regulations, many accountants don’t really want to tackle a claim. But we become your bolt-on R&D tax rebate department, for the duration of your claim. We work with your existing financial team and are solely focused on submitting successful R&D tax rebate claims.

Is it worth the investment? Well, our average R&D tax credit rebate is £49,000, so we think its definitely worth a phone call. We look forward to speaking to you.

Jamie Smith