While focusing on the most representative chemical production of nano-scaled particles in suspensions, the NanoPAT project will bridge this gap using three novel, complementary real-time in situ particle size characterisation technologies – Photon Density Wave spectroscopy (PDW), OptoFluidic force induction (OF2i) and Turbidity spectrometry (TUS). These technologies will be advanced from the “lab-status” (TRL 4) to a technology demonstration level for inline/online process monitoring at pilot scale in the industrial environment (TRL 6) of the NanoPAT industrial partners. This is accompanied by a simultaneous development of a PAT (Process Analytical Technology) Software Platform for holistic digital process data storage and analysis, in conjunction with process modelling and the development of a Decision Support System (DSS) to fuse the data-rich multi-modal results of the nano-characterisation technologies with the industrial production reality, allowing for a digitalized real-time process and quality control. Having an even broader potential, the validation of the NanoPAT solution will be performed in 5 different complementary application cases in large and small companies for the production of mineral, polymer and conversion of ceramic NPs electrolyte suspensions with different shape and aggregation behaviours.
Importantly, our project will deliver a set of recommendations for standards as well as nanosafety activities to demonstrate the advantage of the inline monitoring approach. To support the roll out of the project results in the NPs processing industries, the project will also cover technical and transversal training activities also used as a vector for cross-fertilization with other related projects encapsulated in a clustering strategy supported by the partners’ involvement in numerous EU networks, like SPIRE, ETPN or NanoSafety Cluster, as well as in synergistic ongoing H2020 projects. In parallel, NanoPAT will develop a number of outreach activities to improve the understanding and acceptance of NP production in Europe among the public.
The project includes a suite of relevant stakeholders along the supply and value chain to prepare the successful deployment of NanoPAT. The NanoPAT consortium consists of 15 partners, representing instrument developers, process data and modelling experts, academic process researchers, industrial processing specialists, as well as innovation and dissemination experts. NanoPAT will intensively contribute to enhancing the innovation capacity of the European nanotechnology sector. It aims at empowering small to large-scale European industrial manufacturers of nano-scaled particles to gain understanding and thus control on the underlying particle formation processes during production. This will enable them to reduce cost (increased space-time-yield, reduced feedstock and energy demand) and to save on time-to-market for product development as well as to increase product quality and consistency.
All in all, the overriding goal of NanoPAT is to deliver three novel, real-time nano-characterisation Process Analytical Technologies (PAT) validated in five different industrial manufacturing environments, including real-time data handling for digital production process monitoring and quality control. This implies that innovating PATs integrated inline (PDW, TUS) or online (OF2i) will be paired with new data-analytical methodologies in order to provide, for the first time, a real-time analysis for manufacturing processes of particles in the nanometre scale with sub minute temporal resolution. By overcoming the current challenges linked to NPs characterisation, and validating new versatile technologies for real-time process monitoring in a variety of sectors, as well as, thanks to complementary transversal activities, NanoPAT will have enduring impacts for significantly improving the manufacturing of nanoparticles.