2003 Progress Report: Implications of Nanomaterials Manufacture and Use: Development of a Methodology for Screening SustainabilityEPA Grant Number: R830910
Title: Implications of Nanomaterials Manufacture and Use: Development of a Methodology for Screening Sustainability
Investigators: Beaver, Earl R. , Beloff, Beth , Tanzil, Dicksen , Wiesner, Mark R.
Institution: BRIDGES to Sustainability , Rice University
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: May 1, 2003 through April 30, 2005
Project Period Covered by this Report: May 1, 2003 through April 30, 2004
Project Amount: $99,740
RFA: Environmental Futures Research in Nanoscale Science Engineering and Technology (2002) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , Safer Chemicals
The objective of this research project is to develop a methodology to screen the sustainability of new technology applications in terms of environmental, societal, and economic risks and opportunities. Specifically, the project focuses on the assessment of life-cycle costs and benefits of nanomaterials with near-term uses.
A literature review was conducted to summarize what is known about the health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials and methodologies that have been developed to screen for sustainability and life-cycle impacts of new technology applications. Life-cycle assessment was initiated for three representative uses of nanomaterials: titania nanoparticles in sunscreens, alumoxane nanoparticles for ceramic membrane production, and fullerene applications in near-term consumer products. Quantitative “recipes” for the manufacture of the nanomaterials currently are being collected. Although there are unknowns relating to the production scaleup and to some extent impacts during use, the greatest uncertainties are in the fate of the nanomaterials at end-of-life.
We will continue to develop life-cycle inventories for resource use and environmental impacts for the nanomaterials and will perform a qualitative analysis for the broader sustainability impacts. An advisory panel composed of industry and academic representatives will be formed to review the assessment produced in this work. A generalized methodology to screen the sustainability of nanotechnology and other new technology applications will be proposed based on the insights gained from this exercise.