The NanoCare Project has gained new knowledge about the effects of nanomaterials on health and on the environment. Dr. Peter Nagler, head of Innovation Management for Evonik's Chemistry Business Area, said that the project, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, would immensely help create a broad basis for safe and responsible nanotechnology development. "From Evonik's perspective, NanoCare is a success," he said during the closing ceremony for NanoCare in Berlin today. The objective of NanoCare, launched three years ago, is to gain more knowledge about the impact of industrially manufactured nanomaterials on health. Fifteen companies, universities, and research facilities participated in and contributed their expertise to the project.
Evonik Industries has, from the beginning, played a vital role in shaping the content and key areas of the NanoCare Project. The company provided NanoCare its highly researched comparative materials titanium oxide and carbon black, as well as new nanomaterials such as zirconium oxide, cerium oxide, mixed oxides, and various innovative surfacemodified particles. Evonik’s analytical services center, AQura, provided NanoCare with its expertise in the chemical-physical characterization of particles and in measuring nanoparticles in the workplace. In addition, Evonik opened its factory gates to independent specialists who wanted to take measurements in the workplace.
"The results obtained by NanoCare so far indicate that no additional safety measures are required for the newly researched materials, compared to the already highly researched comparative materials, for which a broader database exists." NanoCare has significantly broadened knowledge about evaluating nanomaterials. In addition, methods were developed to measure nanoparticles in the workplace. The project helps standardize international testing in various areas. For example, NanoCare provides its data to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to improve internationally recognized test strategies.
New technologies such as nanotechnology are indispensible to Evonik in its search for solutions to urgent future challenges. Thus, they also represent a pillar of the Group’s innovation strategy. An example of an innovation at Evonik that is useful to people and to the environment is SEPARION®, a flexible, ceramic membrane. The development and manufacture of this product owes its success to nanotechnology. SEPARION® makes lithium ion battery cells safer and more efficient in larger applications, contributing to the ongoing development of fuelefficient hybrids and electric vehicles. Adhesives for manufacturing automobiles are another example: They bond materials such as metal and plastic. Expensive hot presses and time-consuming industrial oven processes for curing adhesives are, to some extent, no longer necessary, thanks to MagSilica®, which consists of tiny iron oxide particles coated with silicon dioxide. This saves energy and accelerates the production process.
Nagler is convinced that products based on this technology will prevail only if the industry seriously considers the social discourse on opportunity and risk and communicates the new technology and its benefits to a broad public. "We have committed ourselves to applying nanotechnology responsibly, and this is why we’re taking part in NanoCare."