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News release, December 6, 2010

Responsible research: The safe use of carbon nanotubes

Inno.CNT Innovation Alliance expands safety research

Düsseldorf, 6 December 2010. Inno.CNT Innovation Alliance, a research network sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, develops innovative applications using carbon nanotubes (CNT) in the fields of lightweight construction, mobility, electronics, energy and the environment. On 1 November 2010, Inno.CNT expanded to include the CarboLifeCycle project to explore in greater depth issues such as possible effects on health in the workplace and environmental compatibility in the production, processing and use of products containing carbon nanotubes.

Experts have already been researching these topics for a number of years. Back in March 2006, the TRACER project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research was launched to assess possible health risks arising from CNT throughout their entire life cycle. Based on this, the crossover project CarboSafe was launched within Inno.CNT in 2008. CarboSafe closes the loop of the product cycle, as the project also deals with the disposal of products containing CNT in the end-of-life phase. In addition to studies on the immediate effects on water organisms, the project focuses on the development of measurement strategies and technology in order to determine whether CNT can be released into the environment during the manufacture, processing and use of products containing CNT.

CarboLifeCycle incorporates the results achieved by TRACER and CarboSafe in its work. A new aspect under investigation is the degradation behavior (wear) of products containing CNT. The project partners will continue to develop measuring methods for CNT to investigate the possible release of CNT from products containing CNT due to environmental influences as well as the behavior of CNT in environmental media such as soils. The ecotoxicological studies of CarboSafe will be expanded in CarboLifeCycle with regard to possible long-term impacts and effects at the cellular level. During the next three years, CarboLifeCycle project partners will design methods and measures to help ensure safety in the processing and use of CNT and products containing CNT.