BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany, is participating in a research project called NanoGEM (Nanostructured materials – Health, Exposure and Material Properties). The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which initiated the project, will offer approximately €4.9 million (US$ 6.8 million) in funding over the next three years, with industry to contribute around another €1.5 million. The project is headed by the Duisburg, Germany-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology.
NanoGEM will investigate absorption and distribution of nanoparticles in the human body as a function of their size, structure and surface properties. The project reportedly is the first of its kind to evaluate industrially relevant nanoparticles and nanomaterials in processed products.
BASF also participated in a European Union project CellNanoTox (Cellular Interaction and Toxicology with Engineered Nanoparticles), which ended earlier this year. The main question CellNanoTox set out to answer was: What happens when nanoparticles meet cells? Are they absorbed, distributed, stored, or expelled? And what effects do they produce in cells?
"The results show that every nanomaterial works differently. Just because a substance contains small particles doesn't automatically make it toxic," says Dr. Robert Landsiedel, head of nanotoxicology research at BASF. "While some nanomaterials produced inflammatory responses even at low doses, others have no harmful effects."
Detailed knowledge of the behavior and effects of nanomaterials is enormously important in the risk assessment process for new products. "Safety research is basically about finding out which methods are genuinely suitable for assessing the potential risks of nanomaterials," explains Landsiedel. "The goal is to develop intelligent test strategies for nanomaterials."
In other news, BASF's Soluplus, a matrix polymer that forms solid solutions with poorly soluble active ingredients, earned the Silver Innovation Award at CPhI Worldwide, the Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients and Intermediates.
Soluplus is especially designed for pharmaceuticals produced by hot melt extrusion. In hot melt extrusion, the individual ingredients of a medicine are mixed and melted at high temperatures in an extruder with polymers (e.g., Soluplus) being added. This allows active pharmaceutical ingredients to dissolve in the polymer, yielding what are called solid solutions. These enable poorly soluble active ingredients with otherwise low bioavailability to be administered in tablet form.
BASF also is paying attention to water-treatment and paper chemicals. The company has decided to establish a wholly owned world-scale production base in Nanjing, China, with the construction of a 40,000-mt/a quaternized cationic monomers plant and a 20,000-mt/a cationic polyacrylamides plant.
The two BASF plants are expected to start up production in the third quarter of 2012. They mark the first Asian manufacturing of these products by BASF.
Cationic monomers are a key feedstock for cationic polyacrylamides. Cationic polyacrylamides are used as organic flocculants in the water treatment industry and as retention aids in the paper industry.