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Ecodesign: Making materials safer, more innovative, and more sustainable

​At CEA-Liten's Nanosafety Platform, researchers have been studying nanomaterial lifecycles for over fifteen years, seeking to identify risks at every stage to make these materials safer and more sustainable.

Published on 9 August 2022

The institute is leveraging its know-how, advanced characterization equipment, and proven methods to make nanomaterials "safe by design"—an approach that addresses risks to people and the planet at every stage of the design and development cycle. As part of the EU Horizon 2020 OASIS consortium, for instance, CEA-Liten has helped set up an open innovation lab where companies can work on mitigating nano-specific risks in their processes. The types of nanomaterials the project is focusing on could be used in products as diverse as multifunctional composite bus panels and badminton rackets. CEA-Liten has worked on both development and manufacturing, running lab tests to simulate use cases in realistic conditions and taking samples on the project's specially built pilot lines to assess occupational exposure to particles, including nanoparticles. The institute carried out preliminary risk analyses on the pilot lines, a prerequisite to scaling up new processes. A document outlining the sustainability assessment tool created based on these assessments is due to be published soon, and will provide valuable input for the development of a future standard.

© CEA - Laboratory test - Artificial aging in climatic chamber

The next step is to incorporate lifecycle analysis (LCA) into the risk analysis process. This reflects a growing understanding that "safe by design" is no longer enough—with more and more companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and the European Green Deal driving a shift toward a "safe and sustainable by design" approach, advanced new materials must not only be inherently safe; they must also be sustainable. The SURPASS project is just one example of how CEA-Liten is drawing on its expertise in materials and LCA to move toward this goal. Launched in 2022, the thirteen-partner project will develop next-generation polymers that are safer, more sustainable, and easier to recycle. 

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