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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > NanotechnologyKTN > Current Developments in Standards and Regulation for Nanotechnologies

Fiona Brewer

Earlier this year, the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) and Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA) held a workshop on the ‘Current Developments in Standards and Regulation for Nanotechnologies' at the National Physical Laboratory.

December 23rd, 2013

Current Developments in Standards and Regulation for Nanotechnologies

The workshop brought together experts and representatives of the nanotechnology standardisation committees and companies that have working experience in the field, together with companies that have not yet implemented nanotechnology standards for in-house processes or product development. The aim of the event was to highlight the various ways in which UK companies that are enabled by nanotechnology can contribute to the standardisation process with information on its benefits for research, development and commercialisation of nanotechnology.

Mark Gee from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) introduced the day with an overview of NPL's activities in Nanotechnology Standardisation including Nanotechnology Standardisation from the start of ISO TC 229 and CEN352, vocabulary development in ISO TC 229 and publication of a guide to nano and micro tribology, measurement in CEN 352, ISO TC 229 led project giving vocabulary for nano-objects and standards for tribological coatings.

The day was divided into three sessions with morning and afternoon presentations followed by a breakout group and reporting session. The individual presentations can be downloaded from the NanoKTN and NIA websites.

Delegates from key UK and overseas organisations provided an overview of the current work in nanotechnology standardisation on the international level (ISO/TC 229), the European level (CEN/TC 352) and the national level in the UK (BSI NTI/1). They encouraged individuals from companies in the room to get involved in the standardisation process and come forward with proposals. They also demonstrated ways it was possible for companies of all sizes and at all stages of a nanotechnology supply chain.

Simon Holland, Director, Process Understanding and Control, GSK; Chair of BSI NTI/1, Chair of ISO/TC 229) presented a keynote on the Challenges Facing Standardisation in Nanotechnology. Simon introduced his presentation by providing an overview of the drivers for standardisation: to encourage the development and commercialisation of new technologies, to improve communication among stakeholders, to foster innovation - encourage diffusion of new technologies, to lower barriers to market entry, to promote market efficiency, and to protect public health and environment. His emphasis was also on moves towards standards for the nano-biotechnology field.

During a breakout session, the delegates elaborated detailed recommendations on what new standards and practical test methodologies need to be developed to support product development and what new nanoscale technologies need standardisation in the short to medium term (up to 5 years).

Delegates also discussed how the current standards portfolio can be disseminated effectively, how the UK industry can be encouraged to participate in its development and if there was scope for more facilitated and collaborative standards making with workshop agreements or inter-laboratory comparisons.

It was concluded that there is still much to be done in the area of practical standards for Nanotechnology and prenormative research and support can be obtained mainly through the European Commission in various initiatives such as FP7 (& Horizon 2020) RTD projects, the EMRP and EC Mandated projects.

One conclusion is that the recommended EU definition and REACH are key drivers for regulatory decisions which could in turn drive standards developments through specific analysis and enforcement. The UK is in a good position to bridge the standards gap between major trading blocks (US, Europe and Asia).

For SMEs, there can be significant knowledge barriers to companies wishing to engage with the standards process which can appear slow, and difficult to understand. It was agreed that careful regard to other standards committees is needed to place specific standards developments in their correct context e.g. TC 24, ASTM - E56 and IEC TC 113. Recently however, there is a new BSI Publicly Available Specification BSI PAS:137 - Nanomaterials and nanotechnology-based products guide to regulation and standards which aims to assist companies in general principles. There are also efforts to standardise graphene at the international level and its specifications which have attracted much governmental funding in recent months.

To influence standards development, UK industry is encouraged to comment on draft documents through a NTI/1 member organisation, provide input to NTI/1 through a representative organisation, become a working group expert or become a UK committee member.

To access the report from this event, please visit the NanoKTN website NanoKTN or the NIA website NIA

For further information on the workshop, for copies of individual presentations or for more information on the NanoKTN and the NIA, please see NanoKTN or NIA

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