The first part of this survey, which we posted yesterday in our Nanowerk Spotlight, introduces nanotechnology policy making and the reasons for its complexity, and offers a panorama of the set of mandatory tools that are currently available to regulate nanotechnologies. The second part, today, provides an outlook of the set of voluntary tools that coexist with the mandatory ones. For the voluntary environmental programs that are in place for nanomaterials, governments are urging companies to submit health and safety information on the nanomaterials they produce or commercialize.
Complicating things, science is quite divided on how to assess nanotechnology materials and applications. Consequently, as the public discussion about the regulation of nanotechnology in general, and nanomaterials in particular, heats up, emerging opinions on the applicability of existing regulation differ substantially and so do views on which regulatory options best address the current lack of information about environment, health and safety risks of nanomaterials, as well as the regulatory uncertainty and concerns expressed by the politicians, members of the public and industry, and investors. A new, two-part survey outlines the different frameworks policy makers have developed.
Nanotechnology can play a significant role in the construction industry and stands at eighth position in terms of most significant areas of applications in nanotechnology. Nanoengineering of cement-based materials can result in outstanding or smart properties. Introduction of nanotechnology in cement industry has the potential to address some of the challenges such as CO2 emissions, poor crack resistance, long curing time, low tensile strength, high water absorption, low ductility and many other mechanical performances.
Graphene is undoubtedly emerging as the most promising nanomaterial because of its unique combination of superb properties, which opens a way for its exploitation in a wide spectrum of applications. However, it has to overcome a number of obstacles before we can realize its full potential for practical applications. One of the greatest challenges being faced today in commercializing graphene is how to produce high quality material, on a large scale at low cost, and in a reproducible manner. The major hurdle in manufacturing graphene on an industrial scale is the process complexity and the associated high cost of its production, which results in expensive product. In the present article, an attempt has been made to carry out an extensive survey and analysis of global patents pertaining to the various processes of graphene synthesis.
Curcumin is the star bioactive component responsible for turmeric's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Recently, it has emerged as one of the most potent chemo-preventive and chemotherapeutic agents. Consequently, there has been a steep rise in the number of research publications and patents starting from the year 2000 onwards. This article presents the findings of a literatre survey and patent analysis on nano-enabled curcumin. There is an upward trend in patenting and publishing activities, which is especially noteworthy from 2007 onwards. One intriguing fact is that the patenting activity is showing a dominating trend in comparison with the scientific research activity suggesting the growing commercial importance of nano-enabled curcumin.
The efforts undertaken in developing renewable energy sources to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels include major research and investment in advanced electricity storage technologies. Among the various existing technologies, lithium batteries are considered as the most competitive power source because of their high energy density, superior power capability, design flexibility and longer lifespan. This article provides an overview of the current patent landscape of rechargeable Li-ion battery, with a focus on the recent developments on nanomaterials and nanotechnologies used for anode, cathode, and electrolyte materials, and the impact of nanomaterials on the performance of rechargeable lithium batteries. Effort has also been taken to identify key players, emerging trends and applications in this area.
How to regulate nanotechnology and the application of nanomaterials has been quite a controversial issue in recent years. While for instance non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth consider the existing regulatory situation to be inadequate and are urging a strictly precautionary approach, industry representatives are instead seeking the development of specific guidance and standards to support implementation of existing regulations, which are generally seen as adequate. Researchers have used Multicriteria Mapping (MCM) to study why some regulatory options - bans, moratoriums, voluntary measures, etc. - are deemed to be acceptable/unacceptable by various stakeholders in the U.S. and the criteria they use to evaluate the different regulatory options. Not surprisingly, the largest difference in ranking of the policy options can be observed between environmental NGOs and the representatives from the industrial companies and the trade association.
Much of EPA's focus over the past several years has been aimed at filling information gaps and gathering more data regarding the potential risks associated with nanomaterials, mostly through voluntary programs and agency-funded research. Recently, EPA has moved to quicken the pace of its regulatory efforts, through a series of actions taken under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency has also fired a clear shot across the bow of the nanotechnology industry, warning producers and importers of nanoscale materials that the agency intends to pursue enforcement actions against companies that fail to heed EPA's new focus on regulating nanomaterials under TSCA. In light of these developments, companies with an interest in nanotechnology may want to reexamine the agency's recent regulatory initiatives, in order to gain a better understanding of how those actions might affect them.