Case Studies

Implementation in real-life industrial innovation processes

Performing case studies allows us to test, verify and improve our Safe-by-Design and Safe Innovation Approaches in different industrial sectors. Close collaboration with industry from the beginning of the project enables continuous feedback to better target our decision support system.

Case Study 1 - Papermaking

40 years ago, the introduction of colloidal silica in the paper industry offered a way to drastically improve the dewatering (drainage) as well as the retention of fiber fragments and filler particles in the papermaking process, enabling extensive savings in both raw materials, energy and costs for the paper producers. This is still one of the biggest industrial uses for colloidal silica today. In HARMLESS, Nouryon coordinates a case study on colloidal silica in paper.

Material: silica additives
Sector: manufacturing – accelerated dewatering

Case Study 2 - Paint formulations

Paints and coatings are used to protect and decorate a multitude of objects around us, such as houses, cars and furniture. In the ongoing switch from solvent-borne to water-borne paints, where performance and applicability challenges are abundant, colloidal silica has proven to be a solution provider. It gives paints desirable properties such as anti-soiling, scratch resistance, better adhesion and shorter drying times. In HARMLESS, Nouryon coordinates a case study on colloidal silica in paints.

Material: silica additives
Sector: construction – dirt repellent facades

Case Study 3 - Catalysts

The majority of chemical processes are based on catalysts. Innovation in the chemical industry is predominantly driven by catalyst research and development. The multi-component nature and high internal porosity (related to nanostructures within a composite material) contribute to the performance of heterogeneous catalysts. At BASF, we employ catalysts in more than 80% of our own production facilities. In HARMLESS, BASF coordinates a case study on perovskite materials.

Material: perovskites | Sector: catalysis – oxidation

Case Study 4 - Facade insulation

Advanced nanomaterials go beyond particle-based systems. They include surface structures and internal structures, formed by reactive processes in-situ or by advanced manufacturing techniques. The aerogel commercialisation is very dynamic due to insulation panels offering superior thermal insulation with reduced thickness. In HARMLESS, we study realistic panels which are multicomponent materials using a glass fiber mat as mechanical support for a silica-based aerogel structure that provides the insulation. The functionality of thermal insulation by aerogels is fundamentally based on the Knudsen effect of their nanoscale porous structures. BASF collaborates with US partners on this specific use case.

Material: aerogel fibre | Sector: construction – insulation

Case Study 5 - Agriculture

Today, porous materials are largely used for encapsulation and controlled release. In this context, an original porous material made of dispersible nanotubes is developed as a potential environmental friendly alternative for pesticides in agriculture. Alumino-silicate clays nanotubes called imogolites are synthesized with different levels of complexity (different internal surface (OH or CH3), external functionalization with copper nanoparticles, internal adsorption of active products) to go towards new functionalities. HARMLESS partner CEA leads this case study.

Material: imogolite nanotubes | Sector: agriculture – environmental friendly alternatives for pesticides

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EU-funded H2020 Research & Innovation Action addressing Safe-by-Design of multicomponent nanomaterials running from January 2021 - January 2025