BASF is a participant in a research project called NanoGEM (Nanostructured materials – Health, Exposure and Material Properties). The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) initiated project is taking place with the involvement of 19 research institutions and companies. The project will receive approximately €4.9 million in BMBF funding over the next three years, with industry to contribute around another €1.5 million. The project is headed by the Duisburg-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology (IUTA).
NanoGEM will investigate absorption and distribution of nanoparticles in the human body as a function of their size, structure and surface properties. The project is the first of its kind to evaluate industrially relevant nanoparticles and nanomaterials in processed products. NanoGEM is intended in this manner to make an important contribution to the systematic assessment of risk in association with nanomaterial use.
NanoGEM is just one example of BASF's commitment to safety research. Last year alone, BASF took part in approximately 20 projects, cooperations and partnerships.
Another example of BASF's commitment is the EU project CellNanoTox (Cellular Interaction and Toxicology with Engineered Nanoparticles) which came to a successful conclusion in 2010. Again, the project took place with the collaboration of a number of research institutions and companies. The main question CellNanoTox set out to answer was: What happens when nanoparticles meet cells? Are they absorbed, distributed, stored, or expelled? And what effects do they produce in cells? Dr. Robert Landsiedel, head of nanotoxicology research at BASF, commented: "The results show that every nanomaterial works differently. Just because a substance contains small particles doesn't automatically make it toxic. While some nanomaterials produced inflammatory responses even at low doses, others have no harmful effects." The project also used a method to investigate toxicity to the lungs. The method is now being refined by BASF research scientists. A new BMBF-funded project to be launched to that end. The aim is to establish whether the method is suitable for standard practice.
Detailed knowledge of the behavior and effects of nanomaterials is enormously important in the risk assessment process for new products. "Safety research is basically about finding out which methods are genuinely suitable for assessing the potential risks of nanomaterials," Landsiedel stated. The goal is to develop intelligent test strategies for nanomaterials. BASF publishes all the results of its safety research on the company's home page and makes the data available to other project and research partners. Hence, it can serve as a repository of information for further research or as a basis for designing a regulatory framework for handling nanomaterials.
BASF sees nanotechnology as one of the most important technologies for the future. For that reason, BASF has devoted one of five research clusters to nanotechnology. "Nanotechnology is an interface technology and innovation driver for sustainable growth, especially in key markets such as the automotive industry, construction, electronics and health care," said Dr. Christian Fischer, head of polymer research and responsible for the nanotechnology growth cluster. Nanotechnology can be used to develop products with clear benefits for customers and end users, many of which can help to serve energy and in that way make an important contribution toward climate protection. "We recognized at an early stage that our responsibility for our products begins with safety research. That is the reason for our involvement in this area," Fischer said.
BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics and performance products to agricultural products, fine chemicals as well as oil and gas. As a reliable partner BASF creates chemistry to help its customers in virtually all industries to be more successful. With its high-value products and intelligent solutions, BASF plays an important role in finding answers to global challenges such as climate protection, energy efficiency, nutrition and mobility. BASF posted sales of more than €50 billion in 2009 and had approximately 105,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.