Dr. Ajay B. Patil
End-of-life perspective for advanced energy storage, mobility and electronics technology materials: a gateway to a sustainable circular economy
The world is witnessing unprecedented advances in the field of renewable energy generation, storage, electrical mobility, and digital technologies. These developments are necessary to achieve our ambitions of becoming a green and sustainable society that retains economic prosperity. Behind the scenes this transition is enabled by a multitude of increasingly complex materials marked by impressive optoelectronic and/ magnetic properties. Not only does the complexity of materials increase, but also similar is true for the compositional architecture of machines, gadgets and installations. This is combined with an ever-increasing speed with which advanced technologies penetrate global markets and the often very limited life span / planned obsolence of many advanced technologies. Together, these factors yield a rapidly increasing volume of waste materials of complex composition. Such complex waste materials do not only contain a vast variety of valuable resources but, if left untreated, may cause great harm to humans and the environment. It is, therefore, obvious that we need no less than a paradigm shift. EoL products should be regarded not as waste but as valuable secondary resource. Technological solutions are urgently needed to drive the transition towards holistic recycling concepts.
The simple, holistic and yet sustainable answer to all these questions is the adoption of circular economy strategies. This talk will present the opportunities and challenges in management of advanced materials with end-of-life perspective. How the fundamental understanding of materials properties and quantities is necessary in viable circular economy process developments and implementation. It will be complemented by select examples of technologies developed for the recycling of relevant materials and its materials safety-related implications.
Dr. Hubert Rauscher
Safe and Sustainable-by-Design and challenges for Advanced Materials
The EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) aims at contributing to the safeguard of human health and the environment as part of an ambitious approach to move towards a zero-pollution and toxic-free environment. A key action defined in the CSS is the development of criteria for safe and sustainable by design for chemicals. SSbD aims at facilitating the industrial transition towards a safe, zero pollution, climate-neutral and resource-efficient production and consumption, addressing adverse effects on humans, ecosystems and biodiversity from a lifecycle perspective. Advanced materials are a source of prosperity of an industrial society and will also have a major in the transition towards sustainability.
To fulfil these ambitions, the European Commission (EC) developed a framework for the definition of criteria for SSbD chemicals and materials to steer innovation towards the green industrial transition, foster substitution or minimisation of the production and use of substances of concern, and minimize impact on human health, climate and the environment.
The framework encompasses both safety and sustainability assessment, conducted by means of life cycle assessment and it represents the backbone of the EC recommendation released in December 2022 (https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/news/all-research-and-innovation-news/recommendation-safe-and-sustainable-chemicals-published-2022-12-08_en).
The framework is composed of two components: a (re)design phase in which design guiding principles and indicators are proposed to support the design of chemicals and materials, and a safety and sustainability assessment phase in which the safety, environmental and socio-economic sustainability of the chemical/ material are assessed.
To foster the application of the SSBD framework to steer eco-innovation, innovators and the chemical industry have a pivotal role to play encompassing e.g., data availability, specific methodological development, sectorial rules, definition of benchmarks. The presentation will illustrate the framework and the specific implications and challenges for advanced materials.
Prof. Seema Agarwal
Degradation and disassembly concepts for tackling plastic pollution
The extreme stability of polymers has challenged society with the accumulation of plastic waste and its management worldwide. Therefore, new and refined old concepts are urgently needed for the recycling and environmental degradability of plastics reducing and avoiding the accumulation of plastic waste. In this context, one of the questions raised very often is whether biodegradable polymers can be one of the solutions to the problem of plastic waste. For some of the specific applications, the answer is yes but for many other applications new recycling concepts would be preferred.
In the talk, the present scenario of the environmental acceptability of polymers and the opportunities offered by biodegradable disassemblable composites and recyclable cross-linked polymers will be discussed.
Dr. Francesco Saliu
Microfibers in the marine environment: from analytical challenges to bio-inspired solutions
Due to the risk of external contamination, fibers were excluded from the first microplastic surveys of the ocean. Nowadays, they have become the focus of attention and they are reported as the most common type of anthropogenic particle, from subsurface waters to deep-sea sediments and even in marine organisms. This is unsurprising, considering the rapid increase in global fiber production. It’s noteworthy that most of the fibers identified in the ocean are not plastic, but chemically modified cellulose, which has sparked a debate in literature regarding the need for a common analytical methodology.
Additionally, the origin of fiber pollution is under investigation: while textile washing has been identified as the major source, research is underway to identify the key factors that contribute to fiber release from textiles. Finally, the negative effects of fibers and associated contaminants on marine organisms have been less studied than those associated with spherical and fragmented particles. Given the higher proportion of fibers in the marine environment, this is a significant knowledge gap. The presentation will address the current challenges in detecting microfibers and associated contaminants, recent research findings on their fate and interaction with marine organisms, and possible bioinspired solutions.
Prof. Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser
Predictive 3D lung models to assess the hazard of aerosolized (advanced) materials
In field of inhalation toxicology, there is a considerable lack of predictive and pre-validated in vitro lung models, which may be considered as substitutes for animal testing. A range of realistic, reliable, and predictive 3D lung models have been established over the last few years to investigate the potential hazard of aerosolized (nano)materials. Despite this significant progress in increasing complexity and physiological relevance, the models are still restricted for use in research environments. For the regulatory acceptance of in vitro lung models, robustness, reproducibility, and predictivity need to be demonstrated. Several approaches and efforts are currently ongoing to close these gaps such as projects that address standardization by testing the transferability and reproducibility of in vitro lung cell systems via interlaboratory comparison studies. This presentation will cover the challenges of pre-validation steps in the field of 3D lung model engineering and provide an overview of how these models can be used to assess the hazard assessment of (advanced) material aerosols.
Prof. Andrea Hartwig
Impact and mechanisms of action of metal-based nanomaterials on bioavailability and cell toxicity in advanced lung cell systems
Metal-based nanomaterials are increasingly applied as catalysts or antimicrobial additives, including nanoparticles of different metals, but also so-called nanowires of the same materials. This increases the risk of adverse health effects, since toxic metals may be released, and even essential trace elements may be toxic under overload conditions. To assess and compare toxic effects and to identify decisive factors leading to respective toxicity, we applied submers and advanced cell culture models combined with bioavailability studies and gene expression analysis via high throughput-RT qPCR related to genomic stability including epigenetic alterations as well as other relevant endpoints to establish toxicity profiles.
Different examples will be presented, such as chromium(III)oxide particles as compared to water soluble chromium(VI) or chromium(III) as well as the impact of copper- and silver-based nanoparticles and nanowire on genomic stability, demonstrating the role of intracellular bioavailability. Altogether, the applied cell systems and methods provide valuable tools to assess nanomaterial toxicity and, besides new mechanistic insights, the results are of major importance for risk assessment and read-across for metal-based nanomaterials.
Apl. Prof. Dirk Walter
Specific toxicity of CeO2-nanoparticles
Since CeO2-nanoparticles induces specific toxicological effects, they do not belong to the group of so-called granular bio-persistent dusts (GBS). Inhalation exposure to CeO2 elicits inflammatory and fibrotic effects in the lungs of humans and rats. Data in humans as well as in animals indicate individually varying health effects due to inhalation of CeO2. In a long-term inhalation study with nanoscale CeO2-particles, cerium phosphate was clearly detected in rat bone tissue.
In an extensive 2-year-inhalationstudy using nanoscale CeO2-particles in rats, exposure concentrations as low as 0.1 mg/m3 elicited statistically significant granulomatous inflammation and interstitial fibrosis of the lung. With decreasing particle size, the proportion of the two stable cerium valence states increases in favor of the Ce3+ proportion. This leads to altered chemical-physical properties, including an increased redox potential (Ce3+/Ce4+) and higher solubility. In the biological system, the toxicity of CeO2-particles is primarily due to their redox potential at the particle surface. However, a toxic effect due to soluble parts of the CeO2 cannot be excluded.
Prof. Agnieszka Jastrzębska
Elucidating biological response in vitro of two-dimensional Ti3C2Tx MXene
Despite intensive research on the application of MXenes in medicine, the knowledge concerning their mechanisms of bio-action is still not fully clear. In recent years, we have been analyzing the most explored MXene and the influence of its surface chemistry on various interactions with biological matter. Current results point to the conclusion that surface oxidation of 2D Ti3C2Tx MXene into TixOy oxides is responsible for the observed bio-action. As material’s surface is responsible for its first impression on a mammalian cell in vitro, such an event must have a tremendous impact on further cell behavior. Therefore, by carefully studying the 2D Ti3C2Tx MXene etching and delamination pathway and allowing for oxidation, we were able to elucidate its underlying mechanisms of biological action.
Our findings give evidence that the synthesis, processing, and oxidative instability of 2D Ti3C2Tx MXene are responsible for the specific biological response in vitro. This knowledge is an essential tool for materials design and should be rationally used to develop future biotechnological applications of MXenes and related materials.
Prof. Chris Eberl
The future of materials science and engineering: How to participate and get the most out of the digital transformation
The Digital Transformation in Materials Science & Engineering will lead to a profound change in how data, information and knowledge can be shared as well as represented. In the near future, data, information and knowledge will be available through structured knowledge graphs, allowing to use materials data as well as apps (data analytics, simulations, AI-modelling) in a seamless fashion. Collaborations within and across disciplines will be just a click away and semantic interfaces will allow us to establish complex data workflows which will be fed automatically by data from experiments and simulation tools as well as from open data repositories. Altogether, the changes will enable us to accelerate scientific discovery, which gives us and the coming generations a chance to solve the pressing challenges concerning climate change, resource scarcity and give us a realistic chance to implement a circular economy.
In the first part of this talk, the goals and realistic possibilities of ongoing initiatives will be introduced. The role of the Nationale Forschungdaten Infrastruktur NFDI, and specifically the NFDI-MatWerk, as well as the BMBF MaterialDigital initiative shall be introduced and discussed.
In the second part, an introduction to practical examples from within the Fraunhofer IWM will be used to show various aspects of digitalization and their use and how it might be implemented:
- The selection and technical implementation of necessary database(s),
- Digitization of manual and (partially) automated processes in metallography,
- Structuring of a continuous data space through material ontology-based knowledge graphs,
- Use of artificial intelligence models for automated identification and representation of complex microstructures as input to material models, and
- Fusion and interpretation of data from metallography, mechanical properties experiments, and simulations.
Based on these examples, the opportunities and ToDos in establishing a common MSE data space will be discussed. Furthermore, the impact of these changes shall be discussed concerning future proposals, especially for longer lasting collaborative projects as well as proposals for the Excellence Initiative.
Prof. Robert Rallo
Autonomous decision support for nanosafety
The emergence of generative artificial intelligence (genAI) provides new opportunities to accelerate nanoEHS research. In particular, autonomous experimentation offers new possibilities to accelerate the discovery of linkages between the structure, properties and bioactivity of chemicals and nanomaterials.
In this talk we will provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities of the application of modern AI techniques in nanosafety. The talk will cover aspects related to data, latent space representation, physics-embedding, as well as the mapping of AI models to specific hardware accelerators for the autonomous operation of characterization and synthesis instruments.