October 17, 2007 — DuPont (NYSE: DD) has introduced its Light Stabilizer 210, which uses extremely small particles of titanium dioxide to absorb ultraviolet light and protect plastic from the sun’s rays.
But this is more than a simple product release announcement for DuPont. Because a sizeable percentage of the titanium dioxide particles in the Light Stabilizer 210 are nanoscale, the company has chosen the product as a test case for application of a Nano Risk Framework that DuPont and Environmental Defense introduced in June.
The framework is a systematic and disciplined process to evaluate and address the potential risks of nanoscale materials.
DuPont is the world’s largest manufacturer of titanium dioxide, which is widely used as a pigment in the coatings, plastics and paper industries. DuPont’s Light Stabilizer 210 is the first in a family of products based on breakthrough DuPont titanium dioxide process technology, according to the company. A “risk assessment worksheet” (PDF 401KB) of the product is available for download at the Environmental Defense Website.
DuPont and Environmental Defense began working together in 2005, when DuPont’s chairman/CEO and ED’s president co-authored a Wall Street Journal article, entitled “Let’s Get Nanotech Right.” DuPont has pioneered research into the effects of nanomaterials on the environment, including DuPont toxicologist David Warheit’s 2004 study on the effects carbon nanotubes can have on the lungs of rats. Until the U.S. government began sponsoring research into nanomaterials and toxicity, Warheit was among only a few scientists researching nanomaterial toxicity.
DuPont’s product is an additive designed for use in plastics to help protect products from cracking, fading and other types of solar degradation. Potential applications include sporting goods, outdoor furniture, fabrics and carpet fibers — virtually any plastic product that will be exposed to sunlight. It also can be used in plastic films and sheeting to protect plants in greenhouses or packaged goods from UV light.
“Our titanium dioxide manufacturing technology has transformed several times in the more than 70 years since it entered the DuPont product family,” Richard C. Olson, vice president and general manager of DuPont Titanium Technologies, said in a news release. “It’s extremely gratifying to see this material transform yet again into a high performance product made using DuPont nanoscale science.”
Gary K. Whiting, a global venture manager for the new product, said the Light Stabilizer 210 is the first product to use the Nano Risk Framework during the development process.
“Because a portion of the product is less than the threshold 100 nanometers in size, we decided to examine it fully, strictly adhering to the framework,” Whiting said in a news release. “The Nano Risk Framework is an additional tool that allowed us to critically examine and thoroughly understand our product.”
The product works by absorbing ultraviolet rays and changing them into small amounts of heat, which dissipate quickly without damaging the structure of plastic.