NANOLEAP project brings together a European Network of pilot production facilities focused on scaling up nanocomposite synthesis and processing methods. This Network of pilot plants properly equipped and skilled will be available to companies active across the European Construction value chain and for new players who are considering entering the market. Thus, through this focus on a near-industrial scale, NANOLEAP project will effectively support manufacturing SMEs in the implementation of research results for the development of innovative products and processes.
In order to enable these pilot plants offering a suitable service aligned with the needs of the industry (particularly SMEs) some different and complementary strategies are proposed in NANOLEAP:
- A suitable pre-treatment or functionalization of nanoparticles or nano-aggregates depending on the intended use, to ensure optimal compatibility with the matrix and avoid dispersion problems;
- Work on technical solutions for the efficient embedding of nanoparticles into the different matrices employing in situ techniques which leads to larger productions;
- Improvement of nanocomposite production processes in terms of production volume and cost reduction through the proper integration of control systems at the nano-scale (i.e. measurement of degree of dispersion, interfacial properties and mechanical behaviour at the nano level) to avoid problems in operation with nano-components;
- Promoting safe-by-design approaches in nanoparticles measurement, detection, and characterization in gas and liquids, complex media and at workplace and use this knowledge for occupational, consumer and environmental exposure measurements, confinement barriers efficiency testing, personal protective and equipment efficiency testing.
For the creation of the network, ten pilot plants dealing with the most promising applications of polymeric nanocomposites in the construction and engineering sector have been selected. This project will support these pilot lines for the scaling up and production of these nanocomposite based products in order to facilitate their further adoption by the entire construction chain:
- Coated nanoparticles with improved compatibility with the matrix providing a wide range of functionalities and leading to high quality products and important saves of energy when processed;
- Antiweathering and anticorrosion nanocomposite coatings for the protection of structures exposed to aggressive environments such as wind turbines, offshore, marine infrastructure;
- Multifunctional polymeric nanocomposites providing environmental resistance (antimicrobial, UV protection) and smart applications to traditional construction materials such as concrete and coatings including self-cleaning, hydrophobicity, early warning crack and water leak alarm;
- Prefab lightweight elements such as aerogels mechanically reinforced with nanoparticles for high thermal insulation applications in building.