Environmental evaluation of a clear coating for wood: toxicological testing and life cycle assessment
Conference contribution, 2012
WoodLife is an on-going project under the EU Seventh Framework Programme aimed at developing a water-based clear coating for exterior wood products. Adding nanoparticles to a conventional coating could improve its UV-protecting properties, thus decreasing the need for maintenance of coated wood products. Wood products could thereby replace non-wood alternatives, which could result in lower environmental impacts.
This paper describes an environmental evaluation carried out within the WoodLife project, in which we test whether the nanoparticles are toxic for the bacteria Vibrio fischeri, and use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to map the environmental consequences of applying the coating on a wood product. This goes beyond the scope of most environmental evaluations of nanotechnologies, which tend to include either an assessment of the possible toxicity of the nanomaterial or an LCA.
The toxicological testing indicates low ecotoxicity of the nanoparticles, but further development of suitable testing methods is warranted to enable a full ecotoxicological evaluation. The LCA shows that a wooden window frame with the new coating can be environmentally superior to plastic and aluminium window frames. However, the potential in part depends on variables such as recycling rates and disposal practices, which are highly uncertain for future products with long service lives.
life cycle assessment