Case 2: Systematic studies of commerically relevant nanomaterials

The program will conduct systematic studies of nanomaterials selected based on their industrial importance. Typically, such materials undergo product development towards new large scale applications, a process which needs to be accompanied by safety considerations. Nanomaterial product development is also expected to contribute to the solution of environmental problems (see Case 3).
(a) Silica nanoparticles
Silica nanoparticles have been selected as key materials for systematic studies due to the industrial relevance of various silica products. The industrial partner AkzoNobel PPC ensures world-leading expertise in the synthesis of silica particles. AkzoNobel PPC have a vast experience in the synthesis of variants of silica nanoparticles, evident through a large patent portfolio and extensive research activities. In fact, silica nanoparticles (synonymous with colloidal silica) are likely by far the largest industrial product based on discrete nanoparticles in the world. The reason is that the raw material is inexpensive, due to the abundance of silica in the earth crust (25%).
Silica nanomaterials are already used in many situations which have led to more environmentally friendly technology; e.g., replacement of organic solvents in paints by water-based systems and drastically reduced water consumption in papermaking. Silica nanoparticles are easily produced in water solution due to the high solubility of silica nanoparticles and silicates, lending them to energy efficient processes.
The synthetic procedures to prepare silica nanoparticles are well-developed and offer a wide range of variability. Particles with different and well-controlled size, shape, surface charge, and surface charge density can be prepared using relatively straight forward protocols. Furthermore, other materials can be coated with a silica layer, to change the surface properties.
(b) Metallic nanoparticles
Engineered nanoparticles of metals and metal oxides show rapidly emerging use in different applications and products placed on the global market. Metallic and oxidic NPs are furthermore non-intentionally generated in many technical applications, e.g. from brake pads, asphalt, tyres, wear of contact wires of trains and subway cars, and during different kinds of maunfacturing. A selection of metal nanoparticles will be studied, based on their relevance for emissions in traffic (see Case 1).
Systematic time-dependent studies of nanoparticle release/dissolution as well as the interaction and transformation with the surroundings in different natural compartments (including changes in speciation and aggregation/sedimentation) are needed for realistic risk assessments.

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