There is no doubt that Thailand is emerging as a key player in the arena of nanotechnology in the region. Several key factors are contributing to the country gaining investors’ interest in nanotechnology investment eg. strategic location, strong economic essentials, infrastructure, R&D capabilities, etc. According to a market research report published by Electronics.ca Publications it is estimated that the global nanotechnology market in 2010 range from about $15.7 billion (the figure used in this report) to $1 trillion. By 2015, the market may be worth more than $2.4 trillion, according to different analysts. In addition, both the government and experts are focusing on science, technology and innovation development to make it more competitive on global markets, especially with the approach of a single Asean market by 2015. Nanotechnology development is expected to stimulate Thailand to leapfrog in key areas of S&T.
However, as with any emerging technology, we may not understand the consequences of nanotechnology application. Consequently, we must be pro-active and address the areas of potential consequences. The area of NANO-SAFETY, must be addressed in a systematic manner to ensure that the key elements are investigated and methodologies developed to provide safety for people and the environment. NANOTEC is making progress to ensure public awareness of nanosafety via various activities:
Public Hearing Sessions:
The National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC) recognizes these concerns and for this reason it has organized several Public Hearing Sessions on NanoSafety in Thailand. The latest session was held on January 13 in Bangkok. The objective of the public hearing sessions are to seek public perception on nanosafety strategic plan. The public hearing sessions attracted representatives from the public sector who submitted their comments to the Secretariat of the Nanosafety Strategic Plan Working Group. Additional public hearings sessions are also being plan throughout the year. The final outcome of these discussions is to explore ways to finalize and push for a national Nanosafety Strategic Plan to be presented to the government.
In addition to organizing public hearing sessions, NANOTEC researchers are also invited to give special talks such as the one given by Dr. Rawiwan Maniratanachote, Head of NanoSafety Lab at NANOTEC on November 1, 2010 at Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok.
“With new properties come new issues. This is what makes “nano” interesting in various fields of technologies. When they are used in these new ways, safety of nanomaterials has raised serious concerns. Because of their very small size and higher surface area per mass, most nanomaterials often behave differently from their bulk counterparts and need to be tested separately. As with ordinary materials, some nanomaterials will be more harmful than others and some may be appropriate to be used in one context, but not in others” said Dr. Rawiwan.
With the successful launch of Nanotechnology Association of Thailand on October 7, 2010 the association is giving top priority to pushing the creation of NanoQ which is the country’s first industrial standards certification for nanotechnology related products,. NanoQ is expected to be launch in late 2011 and will cover the 3 consumers products: textile, paints/coating, and household products.
Certification mark plays an important role in the commercial sector. It acts as evidence to the existence of follow-up agreements between manufacturers and nationally-accredited testing and certification organizations. With the increase of new nano-enabled product in the market, nano mark certification will be an important factor to encourage domestic manufacturers to develop prominent nano products and promote consumers’ acceptance of nano products.
Local companies in Thailand who wish to obtain NanoQ label can forward their request to the Association, who will further work with National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC) to have the product tested. A yearly auditing process will also be part of the NanoQ label package.