Research and development projects

Nano structuresClick to enlarge
Nano structures are more than 1000 times smaller than the diameter of an human hair
Source: eugenesergeev /

The German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is currently funding and guiding the research and development projects listed below. For more information on these projects please refer to the research database Umweltforschungsdatenbank UFORDAT in German and the corresponding number.

Standardisation of methods regarding fate and behaviour of nanomaterials in environmental media – solubility and dissolution rate
Dispersion stability, dissolution (rate) and transformation are considered as most important parameters influencing fate and behavior of nanomaterials in the environment. While there already is a standardized test guideline to establish data on dispersion stability, and while a guidance document on transformation of nanomaterials is underway, a standardized method to determine solubility and dissolution rate of nanomaterials under environment relevant conditions is still missing.
The objective of the project is to develop a working protocol which will include measurements under static and dynamic conditions in order to determine solubility and dissolution rate of nanomaterials under environmental relevant conditions. It is intended to submit the working protocol at OECD level to pursue the adoption as new OECD test guideline.

Advanced materials - Thematic conferences: Assessment of needs to act on chemical safety
As for nanomaterials, for advanced materials the question raises if the requirements of chemicals legislations (e.g. REACH and CLP regulation) in their current form allow an appropriate risk assessment and thus, a safe use or if adaptation is possibly needed. To answer this question knowledge on developments and challenges of those specific materials is needed.

The project will conduct a survey on advanced materials on the European market and their meaning for risk assessment in the framework of chemical legislation. For this, relevant advanced materials and their applications will be identified and described according to their chemical composition and structure, their behavior and potential hazardous effects on human and environment. In a series of topic conferences the results of the survey will be discussed with stakeholders (i.e. regulatory agencies, science, industry, NGO) and recommendations for action for ensuring and improving safety of human and the environment will be deduced. (UFORDAT Nr. 01080006)

Development of a bioaccumulation test with Hyalella azteca
The project accompanies the development of a potentially new OECD Test Guideline for the determination of bioaccumulation in Hyalella azteca. Within the CEFIC-LRI Project ECO 40 (Investigations on the bioconcentrations of xenobiotics in the freshwater amphipod Hyalella azteca and inter-laboratory comparison of a new BCF test protocol) a test protocol for testing of bioaccumulation in crustacea Hyalella azteca was developed on the basis of five lipophilic substances and a validation ring test will be performed. The UBA project will investigate the applicability, resilience, and limitation of this non-vertebrate test method for highly lipophilic organic substances and nanomaterials. If the method is applicable, a proposal will be prepared on how the method can be applied to these substances and, if relevant, which adaptations are needed. A draft test guideline will be developed. (UFORDAT Nr. 01076553)

Analysis of studies and research projects regarding the detection of nanomaterials in different environmental compartments and deduction of need for action regarding method development
Content of the survey is the analyses of recent scientific studies, research projects and relevant activities of standardisation boards regarding the availability and development of suitable detection and analysis methods for nanomaterials in the different environmental compartments. Based on this analysis, the survey will provide a gap analysis and deduce short term, mid term and long term actions required for method development and standardisation.

Development of an OECD Test Guideline or Guidance on nanomaterial size and size distribution
The characteristics of nanomaterials are influenced by their chemical composition but also by their physical properties (e.g. size, geometry and crystal structure).  For a reliable determination and assessment of behaviour and effects of nanomaterials as well as for the determining exposure of humans and environment a comprehensive physical-chemical characterisation of nanomaterials is essential. This is an important prerequisite to be able to identify them as nanomaterials and to interpret and compare test results and - in future – to forecast behaviour and effects of nanomaterials. Existing OECD standardized test methods for the characterisation of physical-chemical properties weren`t developed taking the specifics of nanomaterials into account. Therefore, the project aims to develop a harmonized test protocol for a valid and reproducible determination of particle size and size distribution which is one of the most relevant physical-chemical properties. The project will focus on particulate and fibrous nanomaterials. (UFORDAT No. 01068953)

Investigations on the possible release of nanoparticles during the deposition and soil-related application of mineral waste
In 2015 a research project was completed (UFOPLAN “Survey on possible environmental exposure of disposal of waste containing nanomaterials”) where it was shown that in a waste incineration plant during a state of the art combustion process of nanomaterials containing waste no higher emissions of nanomaterials in the purified exhaust gas were detected. Nanomaterials were mainly found in the solid residues of the combustion process (ashes and slags). The focus of a current UFOPLAN-project (“Investigations on the possible release of nanoparticles during the deposition and soil-related application of mineral waste”) is to analyze to what extent nanoparticles could be released in the environment during recovery and disposal of combustion residues. (UFORDAT Nr. 01064052)


Final reports of research and development projects

Research Reports Nanomaterials