European Report Warns of Combustibility of Aluminum Nanodust

A report written by Swiss, French, and English researchers with the Nanosafe2 project warns that combustion mechanisms of aluminum nano particles are different from those of microsized particles, which "may lead to potential problems of large scale industrial storage of such particles." The temperature at which oxidation of aluminum begins drastically decreases as particle size decreases, so much so that, at nano sizes, combustion begins before the aluminum melting temperature of 660 degrees C, they write.

Posted last week at www.nanosafe.org, the eight-page Dissemination Report says carbon nanotubes exhibit the same explosion severities and sensitivities as those for coals, food flours, and other nanostructured carbon blacks. It was prepared by three authors from the Swiss Institute of Safety and Security, three from Oxford University, and two from Ineris, the Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques (www.ineris.fr).

Nanosafe2 is a project of 25 partners, mainly companies and public research laboratories, from seven European Union countries. Funded by the European Commission, it is developing risk assessment and management guidance for secure industrial production of nanomaterials. Nanosafe2 began in April 2005 and will continue until March 2009. The project's first Dissemination Report was issued earlier this year and analyzed whether protective materials -- fiber filters, respirator cartridges, protective clothing, and protective gloves -- are effective barriers against nanoparticles. Fiber filters, HEPA filters, and respirator cartridges and masks are effective, but nanoparticles can penetrate through commercially available gloves, the report says.

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