University of Limerick in nanomaterials project


Scientists from the University of Limerick (UL) have joined a European Commission (EC) funded project, SANOWORK that aims to assess and manage potential risks associated with nanomaterials.

SANOWORK involves collaboration between eight academic and public research bodies and five industrial manufacturers of nanomaterials from across Europe that will participate in the €4.7 million EC FP7-NMP research project.

Nanomaterials have dimensions smaller than 100 nanometers, which is a several thousand times smaller than the width of a strand of hair. The smaller size in nanomaterials gives rise to extraordinary properties that hold vast promise for innovation in virtually every industry and public endeavour including health, electronics, transportation and the environment. They have been heralded by many as "the next industrial revolution” with an income in excess of a trillion euro forecast by 2020.

"While the economic potential for nanomaterials is truly huge, the health and environmental impact of this new technology is relatively unknown,” explained Dr Syed Tofail, leader of the UL team in the SANOWORK consortium. "The current gap in knowledge makes it difficult to qualify and manage potential risks that may be associated with nanomaterials,” he added

The project aims to address the general lack of adequate knowledge on the potential health and environmental impact of nanomaterials. "The lack of knowledge is particularly problematic for insurance companies involved in underwriting risks associated with nanomaterials production,”  observed Dr Martin Mullins, a member of the UL team and a Lecturer in Risk Management.

"UL’s contribution to the SANOWORK project will help the insurance industry to take informed decisions in ascertaining risk premiums. No industry can be sustainable in the long term without proper backing from the insurance community,” said Dr Mullins.

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