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Zapping a Safer Nanocoating

Thursday, November 14, 2013

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“Serious health and safety concerns” over nanoparticles in the newest paints and coatings is driving innovative European technology to make those products safer and less environmentally damaging.

The idea: Remove the particles.

The EU-funded NANOFLOC project, now nearing the midway point, aims to develop a system that can remove nanoparticles from coating wastewater in an efficient and cost-effective manner to prevent pollution.

Westmatic Corp.

Sweden-based Westmatic Corp. is leading the research. Westmatic produces vehicle washing systems, and the use of automotive nanocoatings is growing.

The project is being overseen by a company that knows a lot about wastewater: Westmatic Corp. is a Swedish manufacturer of vehicle-wash systems. And demands for nanotech automotive coatings are growing.

'Major Concern'

"The rapid introduction of nano-based products into the market has caused a major concern both for health and environmental impacts, among others from the paint and coating business," NANOFLOC reported last week in a project update.

"A number of studies have documented health risks related to nanoparticles, inhalation exposure and dermal contact being main exposure routes in the coating and paint industry. Likewise, discharge of nanoparticles into aquatic environment causes damage to the gill membrane of fish and crustaceans."

Reverse osmosis and other current water purification methods are energy-intensive and expensive. The NANOFLOC project is working to "develop electro-agglomeration and separation of engineered nanoparticles from process and waste water in the coating industry."

The 24-month project began Jan. 1, 2013.

Nanoparticle Hazards

The project notes that nanotechnology has "opened the door to potential new innovations," but adds that the new technology "has also raised some serious health and safety concerns."


Tiny nanoparticles can carry large risks in paints, coatings and their waste water.

"One such concern is over the health effects of breathable nanoparticles, which can be found in a number of end products such as paints," NANOFLOC said.

Zapping Solids

The NANOFLOC project uses novel electro agglomeration, which the team believes can effectively remove suspended solids to sub-micrometer levels, the team reported in its update.

"The system works by destabilizing nano suspensions and agglomerations of charged particles in solutions using electric fields, thus avoiding the need for chemicals," it reported.

The project will include construction of an innovative reactor for the agglomeration and stabilization of these agglomerations (or flocs), as well as a a reaction chamber and an intelligent process control system (PCU).

So far, the coordinators say, the project has shown promise with regard to electro coagulation technology in paint. A recent project meeting in Stuttgart looked at titanium dioxide and aluminum flakes, and also viewed a potential electro-coagulation reaction chamber.

NANOFLOC researchers

In May, the NANOFLOC team met in Stuttgart, Germany, and decided to focus initially on titanium dioxide and aluminum flakes.

A Project Fact Sheet offers more information.

Growing Nano Demand...

Project officials call the NANOFLOC technology "cost-effective, compact and environmentally friendly."

The project received €1,141,968 (about $1.5 million USD) in EU funding.

Sponsors say the technology could "prove highly environmentally—and economically—significant. "

"Industries that extensively use nanoparticles—such as the paint and coating sector—stand to considerably benefit from a cost-effective technology for removing nanoparticles from used water," the team said.

"The use of nanotechnology in this sector is expected to grow exponentially: By 2016, vehicle manufacturers will be required by law to use anti-scratch paints and coats on their vehicles."

...And Concerns

Concern over the health and environmental safety of nanomaterials is growing worldwide.

In the United States, where nanomaterials remain unregulated, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health just issued a new series of recommendations to limit worker exposure to them.

"Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes" identifies strategies to control worker exposure during the production or use of engineered nanomaterials in paints, coatings and other products.


Tagged categories: Automotive coatings; Nano and hybrid coatings; Nanotechnology; Paint disposal

Comment from Flavio Visioli, (11/14/2013, 9:00 AM)

The nanotecnology it is very important in metallurgiy,Photonic and eletrocnic,not in the coatings. The reasons are the preservations of the Environment and the Health safety . It is an other reason if the nano dimensions are < to ten nanometers, the coatings will have very little resistance because the mobilty of the true nano elements degrade quickly the polymers of the coatings.If the dimension are >of ten nm ,are only the nano labels,and don't have no special result ,the special will be only the price.It is necessary to have coatings with High durability and sustainability

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