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Safety of manufactured nanomaterials

Parallel Session Eight: Greener Nanoproducts

 

 

Quantum LightTM Optics for Lighting


Seth Coe-Sullivan, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, QD Vision Inc.,  United States


QD Vision, Inc. is developing Quantum LightTM optics for solid state lighting devices for sale to commercial and industrial markets later this year.  These products will provide large performance enhancements in terms of light quality, color rendering, and color temperature, and simultaneously a reduction in energy use.  Currently, lighting accounts for between 20% and 25% of the overall electricity consumption in the U.S. and the addition of this technology to lighting products has the potential to reduce the power consumed by lighting by ~80% compared to incandescent bulbs and by ~33% compared to state-of-the-art LED-based and CFL-based fixtures of equivalent color quality.  These step-change improvements to the energy efficiency of lighting around the world are enabled by the quantum dot nano-material that is in the Quantum LightTM optic, and hence it is important to consider the overall environmental pluses and minuses before emplacing such a novel material on the market. When compared to fluorescent or CFL light bulbs, introduction of this technology represents a major reduction in Mercury exposure to individuals due to bulb breakages, and to the environment due to the inefficiency of current recycling procedures for these bulbs.  Separately, the energy efficiency of his technology represents a massive reduction in electricity production needs of the nation, and hence a massive reduction in the amount of coal burning that might take place – coal burning being one of the leading sources of carbon and heavy-metal emissions into the environment today.  Hence, introduction of this technology represents a large net benefit to the environment both in terms of a reduction in net Cadmium, net Carbon and net Mercury releases to the environment, as well as a reduction in Mercury exposure to individuals in home and office environments.

 

Self-Cleaning and Longer-Lasting Coatings


Wendel Wohlleben, Nanotechnology Innovation Team, BASF SE, Germany


Extended lifetimes, increased resilience, reduced requirements for maintenance and replacement – such properties seem to be mundane applications of nanotechnology, but they have a strongly positive impact on the environment.
In the mobility sector, nanostructured coatings prevent bio-fouling without biocides. The same concept is an essential component for nanomembranes that are expected to fight water scarcity by improved water purification. The positive effects of anti-fouling coatings include not only the replacement of toxic substances, but also reduced energy and maintenance requirements. In a longer perspective, similar nanostructured coatings will prevent microbial growth in medical devices, reducing again the load of antibiotics that accumulate in the environment at present. Architectural nanostructured coatings that repel soil and/or show self-cleaning properties are already commercialized in the construction sector. Such surfaces stay cleaner for longer times, and thus they help to reduce material resources in renovation.
Another class of nanostructured coatings makes surfaces more resilient against mechanical stress. Products of inorganic-polymeric hybrid coatings are available that increase the abrasion and scratch resistence, not only for esthetic reasons, but also for prolonged lifetimes and reduced frictional losses with energy savings. On metallic surfaces, thermal spray coating creates a thin layer that is protective and hardening thanks to its nanostructure. Such coated turbine blades for aircraft and for powerhouses, and automobile motor parts resist corrosion and reduce friction. Both increased energy efficiency during use and reduced materials resources for replacement are positive effects for the environment.


Nanocoatings for Energy Conservation and Generation


Joe Pimenoff, Senior Scientist, Beneq, Finland


In my talk, I intend to give a comprehensive picture of the different uses of the nanodimension in coatings, today and tomorrow. Most of the globally competitive applications in nanocoatings today are linked to energy saving and energy generating. Energy saving or special filtering glass for residential window use, self-cleaning glass for greenhouses and anti-reflective glass are all examples of high-end technical applications enabled by nanocoatings. In energy generation, and especially the surging photovoltaic industry, the nanodimension has already made possible increased conversion efficiencies, new cell types and integrated manufacturing methods. In the near future, printed nanocoatings are expected to take solar cell manufacturing to new dimensions in the case of volume and cost efficiency.
Concerning the nanodimension and occupational safety, I will clarify what a company like Beneq is doing in order to keep informed about the latest development and findings in nanosafety, what impact the said findings can have on the company’s activities and how they are implemented in our work.

The Safe Use of Carbon Nanotubes in Coating Applications


Prof. A. J. Lecloux, Nanocyl HSE Manager and Dr. F. Luizi, Nanocyl R&D Executive Director

 

Any new development of nanomaterials will depend on the risk /benefits balance linked to a given application. Consequently, to take advantage of the potential benefits of carbon nanotubes, it is essential to also have a good idea of the potential risk their use could generate during the life cycle of the product. This implies not only to collect toxicological information but also to be able to measure the potential level of exposure during production and use of carbon nanotubes. In cooperation with the company Naneum, exposure to nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes has been measured at various stage of the life cycle of the product for two main coating applications.
Nanocyl recently developed a new, solvent less, eco-friendly fouling release coating for marine applications, BioCylTM which is based on carbon nanotubes and does not leach any biocide, heavy metal, or any other substance harmful to marine organisms. There is an obvious environmental benefit of this product compared to existing solution and the life cycle analysis shows that the risk for human health and the environment is negligible.
Similarly protective thermal coatings have been developed containing carbon nanotubes. When used in aerospace or in automotive applications these products could reduce the insulation weight and consequently reduce energy consumption, without increasing environmental and human health risk.

 

Preserved, Pure and Precious – NanoGuard® for Building & Interior


Michael Overs, Head of Product Management Building & Interior, Nanogate AG, Goettelborn, Germany


Many people safe there money for years to realise their dream of an privately own home. Administrative buildings fulfil not only practical functions, headquarters are one of the most important figureheads for representative purposes. Conservation of value and attractive optics of buildings and interior are central ambitions for private individuals as well as for institutions. 
It is often underestimated that the fabric of a building degrades for various reasons: Natural wear off and weathering as well as vandalism often lead to unscheduled and undesirable maintenance and repairs. If directly after one renovation measure was finished at the one end, the next starts at the other end, this will lead to the feeling of living on a building site.
Nanogate AG works on surfaces for building and interior since years. Nanotechnology is one of our most important tools and offers a wide range of sometimes inimitable possibilities to solve the problems. We call the combination of nanotechnology with established materials and the safe processing on a wide range of substrates Nanogate-Technology. Our technology can be used to enhance and to protect well known materials and products and to open new and alternative production processes.
The Södra Länken tunnel system with a total length of about 16 km was treated with nanoGuard® StoneProtect upon the commission of the city of Stockholm. The patented system drastically reduces the amount of dirt and grime which clings to the surface, thus reducing expensive cleaning phases. This saves considerable costs while NanoGuard® moreover makes a sustained contribution to the environment and traffic safety. The Södra Länken tunnel system is the biggest tunnel system in Sweden and the biggest city tunnel in Europe. The constant stress caused by exhausts, tire particles and other grime forces the operator to regularly clean the tunnel walls lined with exposed concrete which is time-consuming and expensive. Each time all traffic has to be diverted which causes considerable indirect costs and a tremendous strain on the entire Stockholm traffic system, the inhabitants and the environment.


 

 

Picture: Södra Länken Tunnel, Stockholm, Sweden

 


The coating significantly reduces the amount of dirt and grime which stick to the walls. The tunnel does not have to be cleaned as often and no aggressive cleaning agents are needed. Simple treatment with water suffices to free the concrete from the grime. The significantly lower amount of grime sticking to the walls also increases traffic safety, as the exposed concrete can once again reflect light, thus better illuminating the tunnel.
Ketchup stains on a terrace after a barbecue can emerge as a problem of permanent duration quickly. Water repellent impregnations only can protect for a short time. The effectiveness on floor areas is limited due to the fact that the dirt can be pressed into the small pores of the material by walking on it. The advantage of most of the water repellent materials is that their effect on the colour and impression is very low. On the other hand, the protection against soiling of thicker coatings which do not have to be categorically water repellent can be much better. Unfortunately, it is important to keep in mind that thicker coatings can affect colour and impression adversely. In fact, there will be no standard solution, neither in the future.
Graffiti has become a big problem for communes, industry and also for private people. According to the German Conference of Cities, Germany has to pay approximately 200 million EUR per year to remove graffiti (source: FAZ). In most cases only the location of a building will decide whether a building is a target for „graffiti artists“, or not. The removal of graffiti is complicated, mostly impossible. Concrete can be cleaned with aggressive solvents, cleaners and cleaning methods absolutely. A wall made of clinker or natural stone definitely not. Our graffiti protection system can not avoid the adhesion of graffiti but it facilitates its simple remove with a pressure cleaner and hot water – efficient and environmental-friendly.
Consistently people think of nanotechnology as a solution of all the problems which could not be solved with common techniques. Unfortunately, also nanotechnology is not the universal miracle cure. Also, in the future, we think we have to tell our customers that we are not able to annul physical and chemical rules. Anyhow, building and interior offers a lot of possibilities to enhance surfaces, to reduce soiling and maintenance and to conserve value. The Nanogate-Technology helps you to spend more time for leisure than for cleaning, maintenance, and it makes sure that representative buildings remain representative.

Binding Particles to Patience: Nanotechnology in a True context of Sustainability


Ian Illuminato, Friends of the Earth U.S., Washington D.C., United States


Nanotechnology is promoted as a green solution for many global woes. We hear nano will clean our water, make our food safer and more nutritious, and propel our economies towards a new era of growth and prosperity. Sounds promising. Yet, authoritative members of government, the scientific community, civil society, academia, labor unions, and even industry have identified a need for critical assessment and precaution in the development and commercialization of nanotechnologies. Rigorous scientific studies have demonstrated that nanoparticles, employed in many products on the market, have the potential to be toxic to organisms both aquatic and terrestrial. Some nanoparticles have even been found to damage and mutate DNA, an intimate part of the construction of life. When potential problems of this consequence have been reported, a precautionary approach to the widespread use of these manufactured particles would seem to be the natural response.
However, despite these warnings, governments worldwide have yet to demonstrate their commitment to investigating the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications of nanotechnology—at least in terms of providing adequate monetary resources for doing so. Nanotechnology is backed by billions of global investment dollars from governments, yet only a ‘nano-sized’ portion of this money is being invested to support EHS assessments. According to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, less than 3 percent of the $1.4 billion U.S. federal nanotechnology research budget of 2006 was spent on EHS.
Lack of EHS funding and the potential toxicity of nanoparticles are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues surrounding the proliferation of nanotechnologies. We must also acknowledge the fact that manufacturing nanoparticles can be extremely energy-intensive and some of the chemicals used for nano-manufacturing can be highly toxic. Friends of the Earth has argued that in addition to introducing a new generation of toxic chemicals, nanotechnology is also likely to underpin a new wave of industrial expansion and economic globalization that will magnify existing resource and energy use.
What is the true environmental and human health cost of nano-production? It is difficult to answer this question if all of our efforts are focused on ensuring the ‘rapid’ development of this technology. It is particularly challenging to carefully consider the future of nanotechnology when all resources must be devoted to understanding if nanoproducts that are currently on the market are safe.
What makes a ‘greener’ nanoproduct? The real question may be: what makes a greener business? And in this case, that may be a business community that chooses to hold back its fervor to market nanoproducts in response to the substantial uncertainty about their safety and effectiveness. Currently, a greener nanoproduct may be a nanoproduct that is not placed on the market at all.
Only a great naivety would suggest that there are no good intentions behind the development of green nanoproducts. However, even the most genuine of intentions for developing green nanotechnologies will not come to fruition if the foundation of these efforts ignores the need for bona fide sustainable growth and development. A challenge of this order will require much more than frameworks and policy measures—a powerful network of diverse stakeholders willing to work together in a true context of sustainability will be essential.

Sustainability and Recycling of Nanomaterials


Armin Reller, Environmental Science Center, University of Augsburg, Germany


The implementation of functional nanomaterials promises to improve the economic and ecological efficiency of many conventional and emerging technologies. Be it in energy technologies, in microelectronics, in cosmetics, etc., nanotechnology certainly allows to reduce the use of commodities and materials and thus opens up many potential improvements. In order to avoid or at least reduce possible drawbacks and risks the following issues have to be considered:

  • eco-efficient production pathways under safe working place conditions are indispensable
  • the mobility and thus possible trajectories of nanomaterials into the biosphere have to be specified
  • dissipation effects have to be minimized, in particular for nanomaterials containing fractions of e.g. scarce metals
  • possible bio-activity has to be specified
  • applications based on functional nanomaterials afford design concepts allowing reliable and efficient recycling procedures


In summary, any nanomaterial has to be checked by criticality considerations in order to evaluate potentials and risks, not only in terms of economic profitability, but also in terms of eco-efficiency and sustainability.

 

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