GEA Niro, a technology centre in GEA Process Engineering, has helped to solve the problem of how nanotechnology can be used industrially, taking into account health, safety and environmental protection. A team from the company has developed a method that makes it possible to bind suspended nanoparticles in a granular form to minimize the risk of handling particles. This makes it possible to produce finished products that exploit the extraordinary properties found in nano-structured materials in a safe environment. The work has been done within the framework of the EU-funded development project SAPHIR - Safe & Controlled Integrated Production of High-tech Multifunctional Materials and their Recycling.
The project aims to develop new methods of production and use of nanoparticles to manufacture of a wide range of products based on their characteristics and advantages. The SAPHIR project requires nanoparticles to be used in controlled processes, without exposing people to health risks or damaging the environment. It includes 22 partners who together and separately are working to produce products that exploit the properties of nanoparticles.
Michael Wahlberg is the head of the GEA Process Engineering Test and Development Centre. "Our goal in GEA Process Engineering in participating in this research and development project from the outset, was to utilize and further develop our proven technology in spray drying to produce granules that bind nanoparticles,” he said. “Preliminary results confirmed our own expectations. Our technology makes it possible to produce non-dusty granules in a very safe manufacturing process.”
With GEA Process Engineering's new method nanoparticles will become safer and easier to handle. Industry can expect to see a range of innovative products for both businesses and consumers. In all likelihood, the new granulation technique will find its greatest uses in contexts where a liquid form is not appropriate. For example, there will be opportunities for automakers, aircraft manufacturers and other industries where the correlation between strength and weight balance is critical.