2011 - 2014
Stability and Interactions of Engineered Nanoparticles (ENP) in Aqueous Matrices (SIENA)
Nanotechnology has become one of the most promising approaches for obtaining new forms of materials. The resulting properties of the nanoproducts are convincing, which is currently leading to a tremendous increase of the application of nanomaterials in industry and in daily life (e. g. catalysis, food industry, surface treatment, personal care, and medical applications). As a consequence, engineered nanoparticles (ENP) will inevitably find their way into environmental systems. However, little is known about the behaviour of ENP in aqueous systems, and their fate and ecological influence are widely unknown. The arising conflict between the power of applicability and its benefits on the one hand and the possible risk of undesirable ecological impact after application on the other hand is obvious.
For a deeper understanding of the environmental behaviour of ENP in aquatic systems, it is of particular importance to identify and further develop analytical methods for their basic characterisation and to examine their interactions with environmental matrices. In this context, it is crucial to consider main water constituents such as sodium and calcium as well as anthropogenic and natural organic matter (NOM) which is ubiquitous in aquatic systems. NOM can significantly change the properties of ENP concerning their stability, their interactions with other water constituents and their transport behaviour. Especially with regard to water purification processes and human health protection, knowledge of these interactions is of high relevance.
The aims of the proposed project are to characterise relevant inorganic ENP, their stability and their interactions with (natural) organic matter in aqueous solutions, considering typical environmental matrices (surface water, groundwater, and waste water) and physicochemical conditions (pH value, ionic strength). The understanding of the fundamental behaviour of ENP in the aquatic phase will contribute to a deeper understanding and assessment of their environmental risk, to optimise techniques for their separation from aqueous systems and to an environmentally safe production of ENP.