Synthesis of future nano materials

Sophie Marie Schnurre, Institut für Energie- und Umwelttechnik e.V. (IUTA), Duisburg, Germany
Carmen Nickel, Institut für Energie- und Umwelttechnik e.V. (IUTA) , Duisburg, Germany
Tim Hülser, Institut für Energie- und Umwelttechnik e.V. (IUTA), Duisburg, Germany

Rapidly developing markets such as green construction, energy harvesting and storage, advanced materials for aerospace, electronics, medical implants and environmental remediation are potential key applications for nanomaterials(NM). Impacts range from increased efficiency of energy harvesting or storage batteries to radical improvements in mechanical properties for construction materials. In addition, concerns of these markets such as scarcity of materials, cost, security of supply and negative environmental impact of older products could also be addressed by new nano-enabled materials.

During the ongoing FP7 EU project FutureNanoNeeds (FNN), the production, classification, hazard and environmental impact assessment of the next generation NMs prior to their widespread industrial use is studied. To guarantee a comprehensive perspective, concepts and approaches from several well-established contiguous domains will be integrated. Together, these tools will form the basis of a “value chain” regulatory process, which allows each NM to be assessed for different applications on the basis of available data and the specific exposure and life cycle concerns for that application. The main objective of this assessment is to identify specific areas of concern in the nanomaterial life cycle which can be relate to substantial release or exposure and hot spots where a transformation of the material is expected.

Within FNN, we synthesized a variety of NMs on the pilot plant scale with potential use in energy applications like battery technology, photovoltaic and photocatalytic purposes. Furthermore, we generated data sheets for all applications to gather information along the value chain during production, use and recycling. First, different kinds of potential materials were identified for each application and their technical properties were listed. The technology readiness level (TRL) of each material has been worked out using a timeline that is divided into laboratory-, pilot plant- and industrial-scale from today to 2030. Technology options like social and economic chances as well as limitations like risk potential, social risks and barriers to economic growth are considered. Finally, the overall TRL is estimated from today to 2030 for the materials, the process, the components, the assembly and the final product based on all available information.

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