Jul 23 2010
AECOM Technology Corporation is collaborating on new nanotechnology research with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara.
AECOM’s global environmental practice, a world leader in developing environmental solutions, is advancing the understanding, application and potentially beneficial uses of nanotechnology in additional projects around the world.
For the Bren School collaboration, AECOM is providing technical resources, review, and financial support for studies investigating the environmental fate and transport, toxicity and safe handling of nanoscale zero valent iron (nZVI) — a nanomaterial that is proving effective in treating contaminated groundwater and soils. PARS Environmental, Inc. is providing a sample of their innovative nZVI product - NanoFe(TM)- for laboratory testing.
“We are pleased to collaborate with the Bren School in this important research. While nZVI has been effective for groundwater treatment, its environmental and human health risks need further study. Research such as ours is critical to helping industry and the public understand the health and environmental implications of nanomaterials,” said Robert Weber, AECOM Environment Chief Executive.
In other nanomaterial-related projects, AECOM environmental scientists and engineers are pilot testing the use of nZVI for remediating sites with contaminated groundwater, and AECOM’s Toxicology Laboratory in Fort Collins, has performed preliminary investigations on the aquatic toxicity of nZVI and other nanomaterials. In Australia, AECOM economists and other technical experts analyzed the social and economic impacts of nanotechnology in the health & medicine, energy, water and food sectors for the Australian Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. AECOM’s latest data will be shared with Bren researchers.
According to Bill Looney, Director of AECOM’s Nanotechnology Initiative, “Nanomaterials have unique properties that make them effective in certain remediation scenarios. For example, because nZVI’s has a much greater surface area than conventional iron powders, it is particularly useful for rapid, in situ remediation of point source groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents.”
Emerging non-remediation applications of nano-enabled materials include lighter, stronger coatings and structural building materials, energy-efficient lighting, less expensive solar cells and energy storage devices, computing products, diagnostic tools, water filtration and waste treatment technologies. Projected by Lux Research as a US$2.5 trillion market (2015), nanotechnology is likely to play a significant role in shaping productivity, global competitiveness and quality of life.
"We are eager to work with AECOM on developing data to assess the safety of nZVI,” said Dr. Arturo Keller of the Bren School and Associate Director, NSF/EPA funded UC Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology. “This is very promising technology that could be widely adopted, but we currently have little information about its environmental implications." Bren Professor Patricia Holden, a microbiologist; Associate Professor Hunter Lenihan, a marine ecologist; and researchers from their laboratories will also be involved in the work.