NanoRem: Nanotechnology for contaminated land Remediation

The NanoRem project focuses on facilitating practical, safe, economic and exploitable nanotechnology for in-situ remediation, in parallel with the development of a comprehensive understanding of: the environmental risk-benefit balance for the use of nanoparticles (NPs), market demand, overall sustainability and stakeholder perceptions. The research covers the spectrum from the laboratory scale to pilot end-user application. The specific contribution of Deltares and partner Politecnico di Torino is to develop the numerical model functionality that makes it possible to predict the movement and reactivity of designed nanoparticles (NPs) in field applications.

eco innovatie nanorem

Evidence-base to strengthen the EU in-situ remediation sector

The results of NanoRem will support the appropriate use of nanotechnology for the restoration of land and water resources. Providing a thorough scientific underpinning and modelling tools that help increase efficiency and eliminate the risks of field applications, will strengthen the EU environmental sector, as part of a knowledge-based economy at the global leading level.

Unrealised potential

Nanotechnologies used for remediation, or nanoremediation, are primarily employed for treating soils in the saturated zone and groundwater in-situ. Nanotechnologies could generate a step-change in remediation capabilities. This is indicated by laboratory-scale findings, which show that the range of treatable contaminants and the speed with which they can be degraded or stabilised could be substantially increased by comparison with conventional in-situ saturated zone remediation technologies. So far, this stepchange has not been achieved because of barriers associated with the technical performance of available solutions, concerns about cost and sustainability, the fate and risks of engineered NPs and a lack of validated field‐scale performance data addressing these key regulatory and market concerns. The current circumstances reflect an unrealised potential for nanoremediation in contaminated land restoration, both in terms of potentially facilitating a greater return of land and aquifers to a usable state, and in terms of the development of nanotechnology products and services in the environmental sector.

Practical applications

NanoRem takes a holistic approach – developing practical applications and leveraging a stronger development of nanoremediation markets and applications in the EU – that consists of four levels: NP production, implementation and evaluation tools for the scientific support of field applications, field-relevant proof and dissemination, dialogue and exploitation. The second level includes the development of a comprehensive toolbox for the design of nanoremediation operations, field-scale nanoremediation performance, and the determination of the fate of NPs in the subsurface. Part of this toolbox will be the model functionality as developed by Deltares and Politecnico di Torino.