NanoFASE Industry Partners Give Us Feedback on the Clickable Framework

Our second Annual Project Meeting (Lancaster, Sept. 2017) benefitted from the active presence of our Industry Partners (see our Consortium webpage). A special session allowed these partners to present their contribution to NanoFASE research and also their expectations for the second half of the project.

We sat down with representatives of two Industry Partners to talk about what they gained from their presence in Lancaster and how the NanoFase Exposure Assessment Framework can be of use in their context. They revealed in particular how the Clickable Framework may in future facilitate their communication with their own stakeholders.

Hempel advanced paints and coatings are used in industry and large infrastructure. Their Spanish branch is helping NanoFASE scientists improve the realism of our nano-enabled product life cycle case studies, including one centred on marine antifouling paints.

Promethean Particles design, develop and manufacture bespoke inorganic nanoparticle dispersions (the liquid phase obviates inhalation risk and controls aggregation). They provide bare and PVP- capped particles (CeO2, Fe2O3 and Fe3O4, TiO2, and CuO) for NanoFASE experiments on fate and behaviour of nanomaterials in aquatic and soil compartments.

We'll be consulting more stakeholders about adding value to the NanoFASE Framework in May 2018: Care to join us? Express your interest here.

Dr Marta Santiago (Hempel): It's good to be in Lancaster to form an overview of the NanoFASE partners and project, the case studies, and the materials furnished by partners like Promethean (who already provide ENP to Hempel) and the other participating SMEs. For me, it's all about how I can potentially apply nano and the knowledge about environmental fate in my enterprise or the industry. At Hempel we currently do not use nano particles in our paints but we are interested in learning and meeting people who are already applying these materials.

Dr Selina Tang (Promethean): Such a vast research project will always have issues of communications both within and between work packages – so from our materials supply point of view we're delighted to learn here in Lancaster how NanoFASE will fully integrate the use of the BioMax Database. If everyone plays the game, all the particles being made for the project and all the characterization data will be in that central archive – where all the partners can keep abreast of the materials and their experimental use.

Claire Mays (NanoFASE Newsletter): The industry partners presented very specific lists of what you expect or want from NanoFASE. Promethean grouped expectations under the heading of "Corporate Social Responsibility" – which highlights your intention to be a responsible manufacturer with awareness of environmental impacts.

Dr Tang – Yes, we are making these particles and have a responsibility to understand how they affect (if at all) the environment, how they are being transformed. The information gained from NanoFASE helps with our customer dialogue: "We are being proactive – These are the steps we are taking to understand what actually happens with our particles in the environment, and hopefully you can pass that information on". It reflects well on our clients too – some of them big multinational companies. There is pressure on them to ensure nanosafety. If this awareness and responsibility feeds on further up the supply chain it can only be a benefit.

Dr Santiago - Hempel are not using nanoparticles in our paints at this time, but we want to do the proof of concept. We need to be responsible in our choices of materials and know the consequences of their use. We want to know how nanoparticles are released, what is their toxicity, how this affects the environment and of course if they can make our paints better. I think that the NanoFASE Clickable Framework can be especially interesting for companies that are not yet using nanomaterials. When we envision a new product we have to pass a series of gateways in different departments of the enterprise including Health and Safety. If you want to use these particles in your process the first thing you must do is perform a risk assessment and present it internally. The Clickable Framework provides an easy way to grasp what will be implied by introducing nanoparticles into a process.

Dr Tang – It's good that the algorithms are there in the NanoFASE Clickable Framework for modellers, and for those who understand them to identify how the conclusions are derived. In my own professional role I want to get an idea of what's happening in each environmental compartment, for specific materials or material groups. The Framework can show me for example how the fact that particles are coated with PVP affects soil.  It will be interesting to get a breakdown by material group, indexing chemical composition, coating, or size, and helpful to enter the Framework by product types (matrixes, powders). On the front page I want to know the types of outcomes I can expect as a nanomaterials supplier using the Framework.

Newsletter - In your role, could you be talking with someone in another division who would be interested in drilling down into a different part of the NanoFASE Exposure Assessment Framework?

Tang - Potentially – yes. Or when speaking with a customer who is interested more specifically in how a certain material or product type would affect a certain compartment, this Clickable Framework presentation could be a very useful tool to illustrate what has been done within the project.

Our Industry Partners pinpointed in this interview the value of a Clickable Framework tool to share the information NanoFASE is developing, as well as to build confidence by communicating the very fact that there are methods and systematic approaches to assessing nanosafety. Join us to continue this discussion of how best to shape the Framework, at our Hands-On Stakeholder Consultation Workshop to be held in Rome in parallel with SETAC 2018.