Towards eco-friendly nanotechnology-based polymers
Nanotechnology is considered to be the science of the future with an ever-growing variety of applications. A novel concept addressed by the Napoly project was to use nanotechnology to develop natural products that could be used in novel industrial applications. The EU-funded Napoly initiative pinpointed the needs for developing novel biopolymer nano-structured materials for the paper industry and biomedical sector. Project partners performed a survey on nanosciences and nanotechnologies in those fields and subsequently found suitable renewable raw materials for future use in medical or paper/packaging applications. For the paper industry, there was a need to turn towards more sustainable, environmentally friendly development and to change the existing industrial basis. By disseminating information on the use of natural or biopolymers in different applications, project members explored the possibility of replacing existing raw material polymers with bio-based ones in industrial applications. Instead of using traditional additives, chemicals or pigments of mineral origin, the consortium developed natural polymer-based pigments and fillers. Napoly identified the need to use more environmentally friendly nano-structured polymers in the biomedical and paper sector and proposed ecological alternatives to the current chemistry. Exploitation of the project’s achievements offers obvious environmental benefits and at the same time is expected to advance European competitiveness on the global market.