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Intregrated Nanostructures Assessment-Service for the biological impact analysis of nanostructures

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ICARUS-INAS (Intregrated Nanostructures Assessment-Service for the biological impact analysis of nanostructures)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2021-11-30

In the linked FET project ICARUS (Nr. 713514), coordinated by UBU, a portfolio of LCA and nanosafety assessment tools was developed to determine environmental indicators, emissions and the mass/energy balance related to different materials/solutions adopted for the production of coarsening-resistant nano-crystalline (nc) alloys for aerospace applications, as well as to ensure their safety at all stages of their life-cycle. Novel nc-alloys produced within ICARUS have enhanced radiation tolerance (based on refractory metals) and light-weight high strength (based on Al, Mg, Ti), which makes their application in aerospace and related industries highly promising. During the course of these tasks, in particular the LCA analyses, evident limitations were found on the availability of valid characterisation factors (CF) to quantify the potential environmental footprint of the novel nanostructured alloys developed by ICARUS. This limitation is a general situation for freshwater ecotoxicity, human toxicity cancer and human toxicity non-cancer impact categories, as recently highlighted by the European Commision´s Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) . Numerous data are needed to calculate each CF, and time spent to calculate is non-negligible (typically several hours per substance for data collection and review, depending on available information). The ICARUS-INAS project aims to push the safety and eco-sustainability assessment of nanostructured materials a step forward, by offering a novel integrated toxicology-LCA assessment approach to a steadily growing number of potential stakeholders involved in the nanomaterials development field.

The ICARUS-INAS project aims to ensure that high quality characterization factors (CFs) are specifically determined for novel nanostructured materials to assess and quantify their environmental impact over their entire life cycle, through an appropriate portfolio of adapted toxicity tests, aiming to offer a step forward in the environmental safety and sustainability assessment of novel (nano)materials. The underlying innovation idea of this proposal (which is mainly addressing exploitation and dissemination activities), is the development of a certified Integrated Nanostructures Assessment-Service (INAS) for the biological impact analysis of nanostructures combining toxicology and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). A portfolio of in vitro tests, including rapid high-throughput tests and mechanistic toxicity projects applying omics technologies, will be offered for the assessment of the human and environmental safety of nanostructured alloys and other nanomaterials, which could be implemented in the customer's facilities too when requested. The toxicology assessment will be tailored as well to the chemical-related impacts for which CFs are necessary within the LCA analysis, allowing a full harmonization between the available toxicity data and the customer’s products life cycle assessment. In preparation of the INAS service, the exploitation, IPR and dissemination strategies will be defined and implemented in this project, based on in-depth market analysis, business planning and other exploitation-related activities.

The main objectives of the project are 1) the validation and certification of a set of tools and protocols previously developed in the linked ICARUS project 2) to develop an integrated Nanosafety and LCA assessment service strategy for academic and industrial customers, through 3) an accompanying dissemination and exploitation strategy.
The activities performed in ICARUS-INAS relate to the exploitation and dissemination activities of the combination between environmental and toxicological impacts mainly for nanostructures in innovation materials. These activities, performed initiated during the linked FET project ICARUS, require further improvements to reflect more realistic data, and therefore, different efforts have been made in ICARUS-INAS project to determine the profitability of creating a business to fund this idea, and to communicate to the general public the importance of the environmental and toxicological results integration.

Overview of WP1: In WP1 (M1-12), the coordinator has worked to ensure the proper management of the project, organising the different activities needed to meet the objective of the project and the deadlines. Relevant stakeholders were identified to gather useful information about the expectations and realistic projection of the proposed idea in the market (MS1). The interviews performed and surveys sent provided and idea of the interest by different stakeholders in the ICARUS-INAS idea and paved the road for the business plan definition. The creation of the “Core ICARUS-INAS group” stablished in the Grant Agreement is not formally developed, although some stakeholders demonstrate their interest for the future activities and collaboration in the research.

Overview of WP2: In WP2 (M1-12), a market, competitors and stakeholder’s analysis were performed. Different companies that currently offer similar services as the related in ICARUS-INAS were identified. The regulation and trends related with environmental and toxicological impacts were analysed and confirms the necessity of the business model proposed in the project. A complete business plan has been elaborated with a financial analysis that validate the profitability of the spin off in the future, paving the way for its creation.

Overview of WP3: In WP3 (M1-12), the dissemination and communication strategy was developed at the beginning of the project, which established the main activities to be performed in order to increase the awareness among general public and potential stakeholders regarding the integration of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and toxicological analysis. For this, a dedicated ICARUS-INAS website was created, scientific, social media and press publications were released, and an animated video was created. The logo and posters were used to assist attend to different events to show the idea of the project. In addition, the IPR strategy was established to identify the main steps to be considered in the creation of the spin off.
The impacts described in the proposals are still relevant after the end of the project, adding relevant impacts found during the project and the information obtained from potential stakeholders. The activities in ICARUS-INAS pave the way for exploiting the added value generated in ICARUS, creating a business idea from the tasks performed by UBU. There will be economic and/or societal benefits as the spin off will be focus on funding the integration between LCA and toxicology analysis, which will be crucial in the following years for the development of sustainable and safe product in their design stage. The identification of environmental impacts combined with the toxicological results is following a growing trend, where regulation and society is asking for more realistic results and validation in their calculations. With the creation of business models as the one developed in ICARUS-INAS, the society will benefit from an improved path to eco-sustainability across the related industries and an increased competitiveness of the European materials industry, reducing the external dependence.
ICARUS INAS concept Poster