Progress in the Commercialization of Graphene

European Plastics News posted an article on it's site last week,("Graphene developers seek routes out of the lab"), focusing on challenges to and progress in the commercialization of graphene, specifically its "potential as a mutlifunctional reinforcement in composites".

Among the challenges the article raises are:

1) Entangling of 3D carbon nanotubes (CNTS) bundles

2) Individual graphite sheets restacking themselves

3) Handling of such shets during transportation to processing facilities

4) Reduction of costs of production and transportation

5) A need to develop standard operating procedures for potential health hazards

While these challenges may seem daunting, the success of three companies - Vorbeck Materials of Maryland,Cabot Corporation of Massachusetts, and Thomas Swan & Co., based in the United Kingdom - are highlighted.

The article also discusses the ongoing support of  the European Commission (EC) and the UK's government of research in graphene and how to commercialize it.:

The European Commission is planning to channel €1bn over 10 years into co-ordinated graphene research and commercialisation. The UK government has announced it wants to spend another £50m (€60.7m) to keep the UK at the forefront of graphene research, with the University of Manchester set to host a national institute of graphene research. Commercialisation of graphene by this route could arrive by late 2012.

Converted in US dollars, the EC will be spending $1.278 billion and the UK $78.153 million.

U.K. Providing Funding for Nanotech Innovations in Healthcare

Earlier this month, the U.K.'s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) announced that they would be providing grants totalling over £6.5 million ($10,285,345.31) to

seven business-led projects that will focus on developing therapeutic agents and diagnostics where nanoscale technologies are at the heart of the innovation.

The aim of the investment is to help ensure that the UK can become an early competitive adopter of these novel technologies and rapidly meet the urgent and difficult challenges posed within the worldwide healthcare sector, by translating world-class early stage ideas from academia and commercialising them through building supply chains with innovative businesses.

The funding is conditional, subject to compliance and financial reviews by EPSRC and TSB. The U.K. views this funding as actively supporting growth in the British economy through healthcare technologies.

The companies involved in these projects are:

Critical Pharmaceuticals Ltd

Johnson Matthey plc

 Mologic Ltd

Nanomerics Ltd

OJ-Bio Ltd

Renishaw Diagnostics Ltd

Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of Sharp Corporation of Japan.

A list of the projects funded by the grants may be found here.

Knights of the Nano Table

Among the United Kingdom's many traditions is the Queen's New Year' Honors List, a list of politicians, actors, writers and others awarded with knighthoods for distinguished services in fields ranging from charitable work to business to acting. Among this years honorees are Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, both of the University of Manchester.

As noted here in October 2010, Professors Geim and Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of graphene.

The two new knights join Sir Mark Edward Welland, head of theUniversity of Cambridge's Nanoscience Centre, in being honored for their contributions to the fields of nanotechnology and nanoparticle research. Sir Mark's knighthood was discussed here inJune 2011.

According to a press release on the University of Manchester's site, Professor Geim seemed to be taking his knighthood in stride:

Professor Geim said: “In my life, I have got used to being called four-letter names. Going down to three is a completely new experience which I will hopefully enjoy.”

Rule Britannia.

Three US-UK Consortia Receive EPA Grants for Nanotech Research

On February 17 2011, the EPA, in conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the UK's Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), announced the awarding of $12 million ($5.5 million from the EPA, $500,000 from CPSC, and $6 million from NERC) to three consortia to fund research aimed at providing a greater understanding of potential risks to human health and the environment posed by engineered nanomaterials and their increasing use in a wider variety of products.

The three consortia, the "Consortium for Manufactured Nanomaterial Bioavailability and Environmental Exposure", "Risk Assessment for Manufctured Nanoparticles Used in Consumer Products (RAMNUC)", and "The Transatlantic Initiative for Technology and the Environment", are composed of leading US and UK Universities and research centers, such as Duke University, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Lancaster University. NERC's $6 million is limited to participating universities and research centers in the UK.  The table below provides more information.

#   

Identifier

Abstract

Principal Investigator

Institution

Grant Representative

Grant Amount

Project Period

RFA

1

R834575
Grant

Consortium for Manufactured Nanomaterial Bioavailability & Environmental Exposure

Colvin, Vicki L.
Chipman, Kevin
Fernandes, Teresa
Klaine, Stephen J.
Lead, Jamie
Luoma, Sam
Stone, Vicki
Tyler, Charles
Valsami-Jones, Eva
Viant, Mark
 

Rice University,Clemson University,Edinburgh Napier University,Natural History Museum (London),University of Birmingham,University of California - Davis,University of Exeter

Lasat, Mitch
 

$2,000,000  

August 2010 -
August 2013  

Environmental Behavior, Bioavailability and Effects of Manufactured Nanomaterials - Joint US – UK Research Program (2009)  

2

R834693
Grant

Risk Assessment for Manufactured Nanoparticles Used in Consumer Products (RAMNUC)

Zhang, Junfeng
Chung, Kian Fan
Di Giulio, Richard T.
Garfunkel, Eric
Georgopoulos, Panos G.
Isukapalli, Sastry S.
Kipen, Howard
Lee, Ki-Bum
Lioy, Paul J.
Mainelis, Gediminas
Porter, Alexandra
Ryan, Mary P.
Schwander, Stephan K.
Tetley, Teresa D
 

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey,Duke University,Imperial College

Lasat, Mitch
 

$1,999,995  

July 2010 -
June 2014  

Environmental Behavior, Bioavailability and Effects of Manufactured Nanomaterials - Joint US – UK Research Program (2009)  

3

R834574
Grant

Transatlantic Initiative for Nanotechnology and the Environment

Bertsch, Paul M.
Casman, Elizabeth
Dorey, Robert
Harris, J.
Jefferson, Bruce
Kabengi, Nadine
Liu, J.
Lofts, Steve
Lowry, Gregory V.
McGrath, Steve
McNear, David H.
Neal, Andy
Ritz, Karl
Rocks, Sophie
Spurgeon, David
Svendsen, Claus
Tsyusko, Olga V.
Unrine, Jason M.
Wiesner, Mark R.
Zhang, Hao
 

University of Kentucky,Carnegie Mellon University,Centre for Ecology and Hydrology,Cranfield University,Duke University,Lancaster University,Rothamsted Research

Lasat, Mitch
 

$2,000,000  

May 2010 -
April 2014  

Environmental Behavior, Bioavailability and Effects of Manufactured Nanomaterials - Joint US – UK Research Program (2009)  

The results of the grant supported research "will help researchers determine whether certain nanomaterials can leach out of products . . . when they are used or disposed of and whether they could become toxic to people and the environment. The results could also be used by nanoindustries to create better and safer products.

 

 

UK budget cuts may lead to closing of nanotech centres

The UK's nanotech centres, receipients of GBP 50 million (roughly about 79.5 million dollars) under the previous Labour Party government, may become victims of the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government's plans to reduce the UK budget deficit.

Appearing before the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on July 23, 2010, Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willetts stated that the UK's nanotech research centres were "most unlikely" to be open in 18 months. Britian's Science Department, as with all Cabinet Departments, is facing budget cuts of between 25% - 40%. Under the Coalition government, Britain's regional development agencies (RDAs), under which the nanotech and other research centres fall, would be abolished and replaced by "Local Enterprise Partnerships" (LEPs)  These LEPs would be fewer and more centralized. The RDAs have been criticized for being "redundant and too expensive".

During his appearance before the Science and Technology Committee Mr. Willetts described the not yet established LEPs as "an effective device for supporting economic growth which includes initiative industries in the regions and local communities". He also suggested the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills would look into potential tax incentives for British industies to support science research.

The UK government is expected to publish a comprehensive budget review in October.

The UK, Nanotechnology & Public Participation

One of the frequent demands of NGOs, such as Friends of the Earth, is that the public should have a role in the development of regulations and government policies toward nanotechnology.

The UK has taken this issue seriously and has devised a way for the public to participate in developing regulations and policy.

Last week,  Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Chair of the Ministerial Group on Nanotechnologies, announced the opening of a website where everyone from academics to CEOs and the general public can file comments on five themes and, more generally, on nanotechnology's role in the future of British industry.

The comments that will be entered on the website will be part of a new strategy on nanotechnology that the British government is scheduled to release in February 2010. That might change though. As anyone who has been following politics in the UK lately is aware, Gordon Brown's Labour government will need to call an election no later than June of 2010 and current olling is showing that the Tories will probably will that election. Whether they retain any schemes created by the current government or create new ones is unknown at this point.

To see the website and take a tour of it, please look here.

Colliding Worlds: Nanotech and GHGs

We here at the Nanotechnology Law Report like to think that nanotech is the "next big thing."  Many think that another "next big thing" is the concern and discussion over global warming and greenhouse gases (GHGs).  Last week these two big things came together in two very interesting ways.

First, the United Kingdom's Department of Food, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), released a report entitled "Environmentally Beneficial Nanotechnologies: Barriers and Opportunities."  The 95-page report (appendices here), outlines the opportunities nanotechnologies may provide in combating global warming through cutting the use of non-renewable energy.  The report focuses on five areas: fuel additives, solar cells, hydrogen, batteries & supercapacitors, and insulation.  A full press release on the report is here, and the report was compiled by Oakdene Hollins, a sustainability consultant.

In a second GHG development, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, has "gone green."  While more details are here, the Project decided to offset its GHG emissions to zero, thereby eliminating is "carbon footprint."  The Project is offsetting approximately 93 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions through The Climate Trust for travel emissions and the Solar Electric Light Fund for electricity emissions.  "Offsets" are those projects that have the effect of reducing the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere through activities such as carbon capture, increased use of renewable energies, or increased efficiencies at existing GHG sources.  The Project, therefore, is funding, through the purchase of offsets, these two organizations' efforts to reduce the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere.

While both of these developments are relatively small compared to the larger body of work on both nanotechnology and global warming, they show that the two are not necessarily distinct.  I suspect we will see more overlap between the two fields are more is learned concerning nanotechnology's ability to impact energy sectors.

EPA's Stewardship Program in Jeopardy?

Information out of Europe suggests that the U.S. EPA's Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, when finally launched, may not be as successful as the Agency hopes.

A similar program in the United Kingdom, the Voluntary Reporting Scheme for Engineered Nanoscale Materials, administered by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has received lukewarm responses at-best.

A report issued on March 22, 2007 by DEFRA states that it received only six submissions to the Voluntary Reporting Scheme: four by industry and two by academia.  The Scheme started in September 2006, and DEFRA will not give more information about the submissions due to concerns of releasing otherwise confidential information.  The report cites concerns and questions of Respondees, including confusion over who the Scheme applies to, when data should be submitted, which materials are covered, and the format of submissions.  The next report on the Scheme is due in June 2007.

The U.S. EPA's program is similar, due to its voluntary nature, to the U.K's Scheme that is getting off to a slow start.  EPA's program, while announced, is under Office of Management and Budget review, making a launch date uncertain. 

MEH: The Stewardship Program is an important tool for EPA to close the data-gap that currently exists between information an effective regulation.  EPA should heed the warnings coming out of the UK and refine its program as needed to create further incentives and protections to industries and researchers if it wants a significant response to its call for data.