• In vitro mesenchymal stem cell response to a CO2 laser modified polymeric material

      Waugh, David G.; Hussain, Issam; Lawrence, Jonathan; Smith, Graham C.; Toccaceli, Christina; University of Chester; University of Lincoln (Elsevier, 2016-05-16)
      With an ageing world population it is becoming significantly apparent that there is a need to produce implants and platforms to manipulate stem cell growth on a pharmaceutical scale. This is needed to meet the socio-economic demands of many countries worldwide. This paper details one of the first ever studies in to the manipulation of stem cell growth on CO2 laser surface treated nylon 6,6 highlighting its potential as an inexpensive platform to manipulate stem cell growth on a pharmaceutical scale. Through CO2 laser surface treatment discrete changes to the surfaces were made. That is, the surface roughness of the nylon 6,6 was increased by up to 4.3 µm, the contact angle was modulated by up to 5° and the surface oxygen content increased by up to 1 atom%. Following mesenchymal stem cell growth on the laser treated samples, it was identified that CO2 laser surface treatment gave rise to an enhanced response with an increase in viable cell count of up to 60,000 cells/ml when compared to the as-received sample. The effect of surface parameters modified by the CO2 laser surface treatment on the mesenchymal stem cell response is also discussed along with potential trends that could be identified to govern the mesenchymal stem cell response.
    • In-depth synthetic, physicochemical and in vitro biological investigation of a new ternary V(IV) antioxidant material based on curcumin.

      Papadopoulos, Theodoros A.; Smith, Graham C.; Halevas, Eleftherios; Salifoglou, Athanasios; Swanson, Claudia H.; Hatzidimitriou, Antonios; Katsipis, George; Pantazaki, Anastasia; Sanakis, I.; Mitrikas, George; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-11-06)
      Curcumin is a natural product with a broad spectrum of beneficial properties relating to pharmaceutical applications, extending from traditional remedies to modern cosmetics. The biological activity of such pigments, however, is limited by their solubility and bioavailability, thereby necessitating new ways of achieving optimal tissue cellular response and efficacy as drugs. Metal ion complexation provides a significant route toward improvement of curcumin stability and biological activity, with vanadium being a representative such metal ion, amply encountered in biological systems and exhibiting exogenous bioactivity through potential pharmaceuticals. Driven by the need to optimally increase curcumin bioavailability and bioactivity through complexation, synthetic efforts were launched to seek out stable species, ultimately leading to the synthesis and isolation of a new ternary V(IV)-curcumin-(2,2’-bipyridine) complex. Physicochemical characterization (elemental analysis, FT-IR, Thermogravimetry (TGA), UV-Visible, NMR, ESI-MS, Fluorescence, X-rays) portrayed the solid-state and solution properties of the ternary complex. Pulsed-EPR spectroscopy, in frozen solutions, suggested the presence of two species, cis- and trans-conformers. Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations revealed the salient features and energetics of the two conformers, thereby complementing EPR spectroscopy. The well-described profile of the vanadium species led to its in vitro biological investigation involving toxicity, cell metabolism inhibition in S. cerevisiae cultures, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)-suppressing capacity, lipid peroxidation, and plasmid DNA degradation. A multitude of bio-assays and methodologies, in comparison to free curcumin, showed that it exhibits its antioxidant potential in a concentration-dependent fashion, thereby formulating a bioreactivity profile supporting development of new efficient vanado-pharmaceuticals, targeting (extra)intra-cellular processes under (patho)physiological conditions.
    • Influencing the attachment of bacteria through laser surface engineering

      Gillett, Alice R.; Waugh, David G.; Lawrence, Jonathan; University of Chester (Laser Institute of America, 2015-10-31)
      Bacteria have evolved to become proficient at adapting to both extracellular and environmental conditions, which has made it possible for them to attach and subsequently form biofilms on varying surfaces. This has resulted in major health concerns and economic burden in both hospital and industrial environments. Surfaces which prevent this bacterial fouling through their physical structure represent a key area of research for the development of antibacterial surfaces for many different environments. Laser surface treatment provides a potential candidate for the production of anti-biofouling surfaces for wide ranging surface applications within healthcare and industrial disciplines. In the present study, a KrF 248 nm Excimer laser was utilized to surface pattern Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The surface topography and roughness were determined with the use of a Micromeasure 2, 3D profiler. Escherichia coli (E. coli) growth was analysed at high shear flow using a CDC Biofilm reactor for 48 hours, scanning electron microscopy was used to determine morphology and total viable counts were made. Through this work it has been shown that the surface modification significantly influenced the distribution and morphology of the attached E. coli cells. What is more, it has been evidenced that the laser-modified PET has been shown to prevent E. coli cells from attaching themselves within the laser-induced micro-surface-features.
    • An Information-Theoretic Approach to the Cost-benefit Analysis of Visualization in Virtual Environments

      Chen, Min; Gaither, Kelly; John, Nigel W.; McCann, Brian; University of Oxford; University of Texas at Austin; University of Chester (IEEE, 2018-08-20)
      Visualization and virtual environments (VEs) have been two interconnected parallel strands in visual computing for decades. Some VEs have been purposely developed for visualization applications, while many visualization applications are exemplary showcases in general-purpose VEs. Because of the development and operation costs of VEs, the majority of visualization applications in practice have yet to benefit from the capacity of VEs. In this paper, we examine this status quo from an information-theoretic perspective. Our objectives are to conduct cost-benefit analysis on typical VE systems (including augmented and mixed reality, theatre-based systems, and large powerwalls), to explain why some visualization applications benefit more from VEs than others, and to sketch out pathways for the future development of visualization applications in VEs. We support our theoretical propositions and analysis using theories and discoveries in the literature of cognitive sciences and the practical evidence reported in the literatures of visualization and VEs.
    • Insights from the parallel implementation of efficient algorithms for the fractional calculus

      Banks, Nicola E. (University of Chester, 2015-07)
      This thesis concerns the development of parallel algorithms to solve fractional differential equations using a numerical approach. The methodology adopted is to adapt existing numerical schemes and to develop prototype parallel programs using the MatLab Parallel Computing Toolbox (MPCT). The approach is to build on existing insights from parallel implementation of ordinary differential equations methods and to test a range of potential candidates for parallel implementation in the fractional case. As a consequence of the work, new insights on the use of MPCT for prototyping are presented, alongside conclusions and algorithms for the effective implementation of parallel methods for the fractional calculus. The principal parallel approaches considered in the work include: - A Runge-Kutta Method for Ordinary Differential Equations including the application of an adapted Richardson Extrapolation Scheme - An implementation of the Diethelm-Chern Algorithm for Fractional Differential Equations - A parallel version of the well-established Fractional Adams Method for Fractional Differential Equations - The adaptation for parallel implementation of Lubich's Fractional Multistep Method for Fractional Differential Equations An important aspect of the work is an improved understanding of the comparative diffi culty of using MPCT for obtaining fair comparisons of parallel implementation. We present details of experimental results which are not satisfactory, and we explain how the problems may be overcome to give meaningful experimental results. Therefore, an important aspect of the conclusions of this work is the advice for other users of MPCT who may be planning to use the package as a prototyping tool for parallel algorithm development: by understanding how implicit multithreading operates, controls can be put in place to allow like-for-like performance comparisons between sequential and parallel programs.
    • Insights into HOx and ROx chemistry in the boreal forest via measurement of peroxyacetic acid, peroxyacetic nitric anhydride (PAN) and hydrogen peroxide

      Crowley, John N.; Pouvesle, Nicolas; Phillips, Gavin J.; Axinte, Raoul; Fischer, Horst; Petaja, Tuukka; Noelscher, Anke C.; Williams, Jonathan; Hens, Korbinian; Harder, Hartwig; et al. (European Geosciences Union, 2018-09-21)
      Unlike many oxidised atmospheric trace gases, which have numerous production pathways, peroxyacetic acid (PAA) and PAN are formed almost exclusively in gas-phase reactions involving the hydroperoxy radical (HO2), the acetyl peroxy radical (CH3C(O)O2) and NO2 and are not believed to be directly emitted in significant amounts by vegetation. As the self-reaction of HO2 is the main photochemical route to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), simultaneous observation of PAA, PAN and H2O2 can provide insight into the HO2 budget. We present an analysis of observations taken during a summertime campaign in a boreal forest that, in addition to natural conditions, was temporarily impacted by two biomass-burning plumes. The observations were analysed using an expression based on a steady-state assumption using relative PAA-to-PAN mixing ratios to derive HO2 concentrations. The steady-state approach generated HO2 concentrations that were generally in reasonable agreement with measurements but sometimes overestimated those observed by factors of 2 or more. We also used a chemically simple, constrained box model to analyse the formation and reaction of radicals that define the observed mixing ratios of PAA and H2O2. After nudging the simulation towards observations by adding extra, photochemical sources of HO2 and CH3C(O)O2, the box model replicated the observations of PAA, H2O2, ROOH and OH throughout the campaign, including the biomass-burning-influenced episodes during which significantly higher levels of many oxidized trace gases were observed. A dominant fraction of CH3O2 radical generation was found to arise via reactions of the CH3C(O)O2 radical. The model indicates that organic peroxy radicals were present at night in high concentrations that sometimes exceeded those predicted for daytime, and initially divergent measured and modelled HO2 concentrations and daily concentration profiles are reconciled when organic peroxy radicals are detected (as HO2) at an efficiency of 35%. Organic peroxy radicals are found to play an important role in the recycling of OH radicals subsequent to their loss via reactions with volatile organic compounds.
    • Integrated Oxyfuel Power Plant with Improved CO2 Separation and Compression Technology for EOR application

      Font Palma, Carolina; Errey, Olivia; Corden, Caroline; Chalmers, Hannah; Lucquiaud, Mathieu; Sanchez del Rio, Maria; Jackson, Steve; Medcalf, Daniel; Livesey, Bryony; Gibbins, Jon; et al. (Elsevier, 2016-06-25)
      An integrated advanced supercritical coal-fired oxyfuel power plant with a novel cryogenic CO2 separation and compression technology for high purity CO2 to suit injection for enhanced oil recovery purposes is investigated. The full process is modelled in Aspen Plus® consisting of: an Air Separation Unit (ASU), an Advanced Supercritical Pulverised Fuel (ASC PF) power plant with a bituminous coal as feedstock, a steam cycle, and a Carbon dioxide Purification Unit (CPU). The proposed CPU process accommodates a distillation column with an integrated reboiler duty to achieve a very high purity CO2 product (99.9%) with constrained oxygen levels (100 ppm). This work presents a detailed analysis of the CO2 separation and compression process within the full power plant, including effective heat integration to reduce the electricity output penalty associated with oxyfuel CO2 capture. The results of this analysis are compared with previous studies and indicate that the combined application of process optimisation in the CPU and advanced heat integration with the power plant offer promising results: In this work a high purity CO2 product was achieved while maintaining 90% capture for a net plant efficiency of 38.02% (LHV), compared with a thermal efficiency of 37.76% (LHV) for a reference simulation of an ASC PF oxy-fired plant with advanced heat integration, providing a lower purity CO2 product.
    • Integration and Characterisation of Piezoelectric Macro-Fibre Composite on Carbon Fibre Composite for Vibration Energy Harvesting

      Shi, Yu; Piao, Chenghe; Fadlaoui, Dounia; Alsaadi, Ahmed; Jia, Yu; University of Chester (IOPScience, 2019-11-01)
      Carbon fibre composite is a strong and a lightweight structural material with applications in automotive, aerospace, medical and industrial applications. The integration of piezoelectric transducer films onto the composite stack can add vibration energy harvesting capabilities to enable net-zero-power autonomous sensing for an otherwise purely mechanical structure. A PZT macro-fibre composite is co-cured with a carbon/epoxy pre-preg in order to manufacture the multi-functional composite plate. Without noticeably increasing profile, adding weight or compromising mechanical integrity, the resultant mechanical plate can recover power from vibrational excitations. With a volume of 13.5 cm3, a peak average power of 9.25 mW was recorded at 2.66 ms −2 . The normalised power density of 97 µW cm −3 m −2 s4 is comparable to some of the state-of-the-art PZT generators reported in the literature.
    • Interactive Three-Dimensional Simulation and Visualisation of Real Time Blood Flow in Vascular Networks

      John, Nigel; Pop, Serban; Holland, Mark, I (University of ChesterUnviersity of Chester, 2020-05)
      One of the challenges in cardiovascular disease management is the clinical decision-making process. When a clinician is dealing with complex and uncertain situations, the decision on whether or how to intervene is made based upon distinct information from diverse sources. There are several variables that can affect how the vascular system responds to treatment. These include: the extent of the damage and scarring, the efficiency of blood flow remodelling, and any associated pathology. Moreover, the effect of an intervention may lead to further unforeseen complications (e.g. another stenosis may be “hidden” further along the vessel). Currently, there is no tool for predicting or exploring such scenarios. This thesis explores the development of a highly adaptive real-time simulation of blood flow that considers patient specific data and clinician interaction. The simulation should model blood realistically, accurately, and through complex vascular networks in real-time. Developing robust flow scenarios that can be incorporated into the decision and planning medical tool set. The focus will be on specific regions of the anatomy, where accuracy is of the utmost importance and the flow can develop into specific patterns, with the aim of better understanding their condition and predicting factors of their future evolution. Results from the validation of the simulation showed promising comparisons with the literature and demonstrated a viability for clinical use.
    • Interface Cohesive Elements to Model Matrix Crack Evolution in Composite Laminates

      Shi, Yu; Pinna, Christophe; Soutis, Constantinos; University of Chester; University of Sheffield; University of Manchester (Springer, 2013-10-02)
      In this paper, the transverse matrix (resin) cracking developed in multidirectional composite laminates loaded in tension was numerically investigated by a finite element (FE) model implemented in the commercially available software Abaqus/Explicit 6.10. A theoretical solution using the equivalent constraint model (ECM) of the damaged laminate developed by Soutis et al. was employed to describe matrix cracking evolution and compared to the proposed numerical approach. In the numerical model, interface cohesive elements were inserted between neighbouring finite elements that run parallel to fibre orientation in each lamina to simulate matrix cracking with the assumption of equally spaced cracks (based on experimental measurements and observations). The stress based traction-separation law was introduced to simulate initiation of matrix cracking and propagation under mixed-mode loading. The numerically predicted crack density was found to depend on the mesh size of the model and the material fracture parameters defined for the cohesive elements. Numerical predictions of matrix crack density as a function of applied stress are in a good agreement to experimentally measured and theoretically (ECM) obtained values, but some further refinement will be required in near future work.
    • Intermediate pyrolysis of biomass energy pellets for producing sustainable liquid, gaseous and solid fuels

      Yang, Y.; Brammer, John G.; Mahmood, A. S. N.; Hornung, A.; Aston University; Institute Branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg (Elsevier, 2014-07-16)
      This work describes the use of intermediate pyrolysis system to produce liquid, gaseous and solid fuels from pelletised wood and barley straw feedstock. Experiments were conducted in a pilot-scale system and all products were collected and analysed. The liquid products were separated into an aqueous phase and an organic phase (pyrolysis oil) under gravity. The oil yields were 34.1 wt.% and 12.0 wt.% for wood and barley straw, respectively. Analysis found that both oils were rich in heterocyclic and phenolic compounds and have heating values over 24 MJ/kg. The yields of char for both feedstocks were found to be about 30 wt.%, with heating values similar to that of typical sub-bituminous class coal. Gas yields were calculated to be approximately 20 wt.%. Studies showed that both gases had heating values similar to that of downdraft gasification producer gas. Analysis on product energy yields indicated the process efficiency was about 75%.
    • The Interplay Between Cholesterol Metabolism and Intrinsic Ageing

      Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester (SpringerLink, 2018-12-31)
      The last few decades have witnessed remarkable progress in our understanding of ageing. From an evolutionary standpoint it is generally accepted that ageing is a non-adaptive process which is underscored by a decrease in the force of natural selection with time. From a mechanistic perspective ageing is characterized by a wide variety of cellular mechanisms, including processes such as cellular senescence, telomere attrition, oxidative damage, molecular chaperone activity, and the regulation of biochemical pathways by sirtuins. These biological findings have been accompanied by an unrelenting rise in both life expectancy and the number of older people globally. However, despite age being recognized demographically as a risk factor for healthspan, the processes associated with ageing are routinely overlooked in disease mechanisms. Thus, a central goal of biogerontology is to understand how diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) are shaped by ageing. This challenge cannot be ignored because CVD is the main cause of morbidity in older people. A worthwhile way to examine how ageing intersects with CVD is to consider the effects ageing has on cholesterol metabolism, because dysregualted cholesterol metabolism is the key factor which underpins the pathology of CVD. The aim of this chapter is to outline a hypothesis which accounts for how ageing intersects with intracellular cholesterol metabolism. Moreover, we discuss the implications of this relationship for the onset of disease in the 'oldest old' (individuals ≥85 years of age). We conclude the chapter by discussing the important role mathematical modelling has to play in improving our understanding of cholesterol metabolism and ageing.
    • Interventional radiology virtual simulator for liver biopsy

      Villard, Pierre-Frédéric; Vidal, Franck P.; ap Cenydd, Llyr; Holbrey, Richard; Pisharody, S.; Johnson, Sheena; Bulpitt, Andy; John, Nigel W.; Bello, Fernando; Gould, Daniel (Springer, 2013-07-24)
      Training in Interventional Radiology currently uses the apprenticeship model, where clinical and technical skills of invasive procedures are learnt during practice in patients. This apprenticeship training method is increasingly limited by regulatory restrictions on working hours, concerns over patient risk through trainees' inexperience and the variable exposure to case mix and emergencies during training. To address this, we have developed a computer-based simulation of visceral needle puncture procedures. Methods A real-time framework has been built that includes: segmentation, physically based modelling, haptics rendering, pseudo-ultrasound generation and the concept of a physical mannequin. It is the result of a close collaboration between different universities, involving computer scientists, clinicians, clinical engineers and occupational psychologists. Results The technical implementation of the framework is a robust and real-time simulation environment combining a physical platform and an immersive computerized virtual environment. The face, content and construct validation have been previously assessed, showing the reliability and effectiveness of this framework, as well as its potential for teaching visceral needle puncture. Conclusion A simulator for ultrasound-guided liver biopsy has been developed. It includes functionalities and metrics extracted from cognitive task analysis. This framework can be useful during training, particularly given the known difficulties in gaining significant practice of core skills in patients.
    • Introducing delay dynamics to Bertalanffy's spherical tumour growth model

      Roberts, Jason A.; Themairi, Asmaa A.; University of Chester; University of Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman (Elsevier, 2016-10-21)
      We introduce delay dynamics to an ordinary differential equation model of tumour growth based upon von Bertalanffy's growth model, a model which has received little attention in comparison to other models, such as Gompterz, Greenspan and logistic models. Using existing, previously published data sets we show that our delay model can perform better than delay models based on a Gompertz, Greenspan or logistic formulation. We look for replication of the oscillatory behaviour in the data, as well as a low error value (via a Least-Squares approach) when comparing. We provide the necessary analysis to show that a unique, continuous, solution exists for our model equation and consider the qualitative behaviour of a solution near a point of equilibrium.
    • An inverse problem for delay differential equations - analysis via integral equations

      Baker, Christopher T. H.; Parmuzin, Evgeny I.; University of Chester (University of Chester, 2006)
    • Investigating Cholesterol Metabolism and Ageing Using a Systems Biology Approach

      Morgan, Amy; Mooney, Kathleen M.; Wilkinson, Stephen J.; Pickles, Neil; Mc Auley, Mark T.; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2016-11-02)
      CVD accounted for 27 % of all deaths in the UK in 2014, and was responsible for 1·7 million hospital admissions in 2013/2014. This condition becomes increasingly prevalent with age, affecting 34·1 and 29·8 % of males and females over 75 years of age respectively in 2011. The dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism with age, often observed as a rise in LDL-cholesterol, has been associated with the pathogenesis of CVD. To compound this problem, it is estimated by 2050, 22 % of the world's population will be over 60 years of age, in culmination with a growing resistance and intolerance to pre-existing cholesterol regulating drugs such as statins. Therefore, it is apparent research into additional therapies for hypercholesterolaemia and CVD prevention is a growing necessity. However, it is also imperative to recognise this complex biological system cannot be studied using a reductionist approach; rather its biological uniqueness necessitates a more integrated methodology, such as that offered by systems biology. In this review, we firstly discuss cholesterol metabolism and how it is affected by diet and the ageing process. Next, we describe therapeutic strategies for hypercholesterolaemia, and finally how the systems biology paradigm can be utilised to investigate how ageing interacts with complex systems such as cholesterol metabolism. We conclude by emphasising the need for nutritionists to work in parallel with the systems biology community, to develop novel approaches to studying cholesterol metabolism and its interaction with ageing.
    • Investigation of a chemically regenerative redox cathode polymer electrolyte fuel cell using a phosphomolybdovanadate polyoxoanion catholyte

      Gunn, Natasha; Ward, David B.; Menelaou, Constantinos; Herbert, Matthew A.; Davies, Trevor J.; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2017-03-06)
      Chemically regenerative redox cathode (CRRC) polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs), where the direct reduction of oxygen is replaced by an in-direct mechanism occurring outside of the cell, are attractive to study as they offer a solution to the cost and durability problems faced by conventional PEFCs. This study reports the first detailed characterization of a high performance complete CRRC PEFC system, where catholyte is circulated between the cathode side of the cell and an air-liquid oxidation reactor called the “regenerator”. The catholyte is an aqueous solution of phosphomolybdovanadate polyoxoanion and is assessed in terms of its performance within both a small single cell and corresponding regenerator over a range of redox states. Two methods for determining regeneration rate are proposed and explored. Expressing the regeneration rate as a “chemical” current is suggested as a useful means of measuring re-oxidation rate with respect to the cell. The analysis highlights the present limitations to the technology and provides an indication of the maximum power density achievable, which is highly competitive with conventional PEFC systems.
    • Investigation of size, concentration and particle shapes in hydraulic systems using an in-line CMOS image matrix sensor

      McMillan, Alison; Kornilin, Dmitriy V. (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndŵr UniversityUniversity of Chester, 2018-09-21)
      The theoretical and experimental investigation of the novel in-line CMOS image sensor was performed. This sensor is aimed to investigate particle size distribution, particle concentration and shape in hydraulic liquid in order to implement the proactive maintenance of hydraulic equipment. The existing instruments such as automatic particle counters and techniques are not sufficiently enough to address this task because of their restricted sensitivity, limit of concentration to be measured and they cannot determine particle shape. Other instruments cannot be used as inline sensors because they are not resistant to the arduous conditions such as high pressure and vibration. The novel mathematical model was proposed as it is not possible to use previously developed techniques based on using optical system and complicated algorithms. This model gives the output signal of the image sensor depending on the particle size, its distance from the light source (LED) and image sensor. Additionally, the model takes into account the limited exposure time and particle track simulation. The results of simulation based on the model are also performed in thesis. On the basis of the mathematical model the image processing algorithms were suggested in order to determine particle size even when this size is lower than pixel size. There are different approaches depending on the relation between the size of the particle and the pixel size. The approach to the volume of liquid sample estimation was suggested in order to address the problem of low accuracy of concentration measurement by the conventional automatic particle counters based on the single photodiode. Proposed technique makes corrections on the basis of particle velocity estimation. Approach to the accuracy estimation of the sensor was proposed and simulation results are shown. Generally, the accuracy of particle size and concentration measurement was considered. Ultimately, the experimental setup was used in order to test suggested techniques. The mathematical model was tested and the results showed sufficient correlation with the experiment. The zinc dust was used as a reference object as there are the particles within the range from 1 to 25 microns which is appropriate to check the sensitivity. The results of experiments using reference instrument showed the improved sensitivity and accuracy of volume measured compared to the reference one.
    • Island Coalescence during Film Growth: An Underestimated Limitation of Cu ALD

      Hagen, Dirk J.; Connolly, James; Povey, Ian M.; Rushworth, Simon; Pemble, Martyn E. (Wiley, 2017-05-31)
    • Isolation of a Ferroelectric Intermediate Phase in Antiferroelectric Dense Sodium Niobate Ceramics

      Yang, Bin; Zhang, Hangfeng; Yan, Haixue; Abrahams, Isaac (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
      Switchable ferroelectric/antiferroelectric ceramics are of significant interest for high power energy storage applications. Grain size control of this switching is an interesting approach to controlling polarization and hence dielectric properties. However, the use of this approach in technologically relevant ceramics is hindered by difficulty in fabricating dense ceramics with small grain sizes. Here an intermediate polar ferroelectric phase (P21ma) has been isolated in dense bulk sodium niobate ceramics by grain size control through spark plasma sintering methods. Our findings, supported by XRD, DSC, P-E (I-E) loops and dielectric characterization, provide evidence that the phase transition from the antiferroelectric (AFE) R-phase, in space group Pnmm, above 300 C, to the AFE P-phase, in space group Pbma, at room temperature, always involves the polar intermediate P21ma phase and that the P21ma to Pbma transition can be suppressed by reducing grain size.