The project focusses on the promotion of the nanotechnology as key enabling technology to support the development of added value plastic materials based on the use of nanomaterials (i.e. nanoreinforcement). The approach defined to overcome the current barriers limiting the use of nanomaterials is based on the development of tools to support decision making, including applications to identify proper nanofillers for targeted applications, advanced browsers to improve the access to information on applications and safety issues, on line tools to characterize the toxicological profile and exposure potential to relevant nanomaterials, as well a complete observatory on the safety and applications of nanostructured polymers.
A compendium of task and activities will be conducted to achieve the scheduled results of the project. The table below depicts the group of tasks defined under the project and expected prodcuts:
|Group of Task||Responsible||Products|
|GT.1. Definition of the use and specifications of ENMs||INL||
|GT2. Development of advanced tools for data searching||URV||
|GT3. Optimization and development of QSAR models||ProtoQSAR||
|GT4. Exposure estimation models||ITENE||
|GT5. Development of the PNC Observatory||INVASSAT||
|GT6. NanoDESK web based platform||ITENE||
The main results of the project are summarized below:
A decision tree tool, based on Excel, will help companies, particularly SMEs, to select new nanofillers for their products.
The decision tree is a multi-criteria tool that seeks to propose to the users the most adequate nanomaterial based on a series of parameters such as the type of final product, the type of property desired for the product, the price, availability in the market and toxicological and ecotoxicological properties. The result for the end user is the proposal of a nanometric material with which to obtain suitable and safe results.
Advanced Search Tool
The intelligent search engine integrates the algorithms developed in an open and simple programming language that allows the handling and representation of data in a web interface. The advanced search engine formed the part of the NanoDesk web platform, freely accessible and oriented to the exploration of the information in the base of the search criteria defined by the user.
The web implementation favors the transfer of results to micro and SMEs, providing companies in the plastic sector with a high added value tool for the exploration and search of information, supporting the selection of suitable NMs considering process viability parameters, Health risks and legal aspects.
The web portal of the observatory is a web tool, focussed on the dissemination, analysis and exploitation of useful information for the strategic decision making of companies and institutions. The portal is structured in several sections, news, downloads, links and an application of technology watch and innovations of the sector.
The QSAR models are implemented for the prediction of four properties of special relevance for the evaluation of the danger of the nanometer are implemented in the web platform NanoDesk, being one of its essential components.
The QSAR models are mathematical models in the form of statistical correlations relating one or more quantitative parameters derived from the chemical structure with a quantitative measure of a physical-chemical physical property or biological / toxicological activity.
The development of these models is essential in the context of this project, since its application will allow the determination of the hazard profile of the NMs, also making it an alternative to in vitro and in vivo tests, as recommended by international institutions such as the OECD and The ECHA.
In the framework of the project, several estimation models will be developed:
- The first model will consist of an estimation of particle exposure levels in the nanoscale range in processes associated with the life cycle of NMs in the plastic sector, from synthesis operations to end-of-life processes, and including cleaning operations and accidents. The models of worker exposure will allow the safe use of the same by the companies.
- The second is a model of matter flow analysis (MFM) combined with equations of transformation and fate of pollutants in the environment, implemented in another suitable language, and directed to the quantification of emission levels of NMs to the environment and to the estimation of its concentration in air, water and soil. This model allows to determine the environmental matrices with greater concentration of NMs, favoring a better management of the protection efforts of the habitat.
- The last model to be carried out within the project seeks the estimation of the consumer exposure values to NMs tonanostructured polymeric materials. The model to be developed is based on the combination of material flow models, NMs release algorithms, and consumption estimates. It seeks to protect human health and stimulate the demand for products with high added value.
It is planned to create a series of dissemination and communication tools for the project. Different events, workshops and webinars have been planned in order to disseminate the information generated by the project.