New research project into safe handling of nanomaterials: Bayer participates in “NanoCare”
Developing a huge database on tiny particles
Friday - February 17, 2006, Leverkusen – Bayer is participating in the “NanoCare” research project, which aims to further enhance scientific analysis of nanomaterials. The project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is focusing on the properties of nanoparticles, i.e. atom- or molecule-sized particles, to ensure that they pose no risk to humans and the environment when used in chemical materials.
As a pioneer of research, Bayer is keen to tap the innovative potential of nanotechnology. With this in mind, the Group is pressing ahead with research into the safe handling of nanomaterials. “NanoCare will provide a set of key basic principles for pioneering materials research and support the responsible use of innovative nanomaterials,” says Dr. Harald Pielartzik, Head of the Nanotechnology Working Group at Bayer.
Nanotechnology is one of the key technologies of the 21st century and is expected to provide crucial innovations not only in material science but also in medicine, aerospace, electronics, energy technology, and environmental protection. Nanotechnology comprises the application of miniscule particles and their use in structures on a scale of up to 100 nanometers (nm). A nanometer – the prefix is derived from the Greek word for “dwarf” – is 10-9 m. Comparing a nanoparticle to the size of a football is like comparing the football to the size of planet Earth.
Thirteen companies, universities and research institutes are contributing their expertise to the NanoCare partnership. They will work together to develop generally accepted measuring and test methods that can be utilized to analyze the safety issues relating to nanomaterials. The project partners also intend to create new nanoparticles and use model systems to analyze their effects on human health and the environment. The expertise of Bayer HealthCare and above all the methods of Bayer Technology Services will play a crucial role in characterizing the physical and chemical properties of the materials, e.g. particle size, particle surface composition and particle quantity.
All the findings and data from the NanoCare research project will be accompanied by an evaluation of appropriate specialist literature and will include the results of research carried out by other scientific groups. Following completion of the study, the project partners intend to maintain the database created and to make it available to the general public on an Internet platform. “We place great value on communication with interested sections of society,” says Dr. Franz Saykowski, manager of the NanoCare project at Bayer. “As with any new technology, people have to be convinced of the benefits of nanotechnology.”
The project begins in March 2006 and will run for three years. It will receive around EUR 5 million in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Research through the WING (Materials Innovations for Industry and Society) support program, while the industry will contribute EUR 2.6 million.
“Nanotechnology offers Bayer vast potential for increasing the performance of its products and processes. Moreover, it will enable us to develop completely new products that will improve our quality of life in many respects,” explains Pielartzik. At present, Bayer already leverages nanotechnology across all its subgroups. The focus of its research and development is on nanoparticles and nanocoatings, nanoadditives and nanocomposites, and on nanoelectronics and nanobiotechnology.
Example developments include special Bayer MaterialScience nanomaterials for use in plastics that offer protection against chemical decomposition and fire, and nanocoatings that increase the scratch resistance and weather resistance of automotive coatings. Fluorescent inks consisting of nanophosphors can be used in medical diagnosis to allow reliable tracing of viruses and bacteria. Another highlight of Bayer’s research is a method developed in tandem by Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer Technology Services for producing large quantities of high-purity carbon nanotubes cost-effectively. Carbon nanotubes have a wide range of applications, covering everything from electrodes and transistors to ceramics for aircraft turbines and electrically conductive plastics to which an ecologically sound electrostatic coating can be applied.
In addition to NanoCare, Bayer is also involved in further initiatives that deal with nanomaterials, including working groups organized by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) and in the “Responsible Production and Use of Nanomaterials” working group of the German Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (DECHEMA).
This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in our public reports filed with the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 20-F). The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.
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