The Czech Republic has already ranked among the global leaders in the application of nanotechnologies in industry and in consumer goods for many years.
In addition, nanotechnologies are also well suited to the Czech foreign development cooperation (FDC) concept. Not only they can address specific environmental, medical, and technical issues at local level, but all the FDC priority states also need to support the adoption of new technologies to strengthen their local business sectors. A professional presentation of available Czech nanotechnologies that can help address problems in FDC priority states was created last year as part of a project supported by the Czech Development Agency.
“Our goal is to compare the existing state of bilateral development cooperation with the offers from Czech nanotechnology companies, and so identify opportunities that could contribute towards the fulfilment of the cooperation objectives and enable the application of Czech products and technologies in these states. This could ultimately reinforce the good name of the Czech Republic and mutual relationships, with potential positive secondary effects beyond mere trade links,” said Lukáš Konečný from the Czech Nanotechnology Industries Association about the project. Last year, this company prepared materials that will be offered to Czech stakeholders to assist in establishing international cooperation and the transfer of know-how to priority states.
These include the Webinar showing outputs of the project, the Internet presentation of Czech nanotechnologies for smart cities, the Czech database of nanotechnology products, the promo video about the most interesting nanotechnologies from the CR, and the Catalogue of nanotechnologies for smart cities. These materials – in Czech and English – are available for use free of charge. They clearly show that the Czech Republic, with its international reputation in several nanotechnology fields, can also offer interesting solutions in the field of foreign development cooperation, such as in water management.
For example in Moldova, qualified as a country under “water stress”. Water quality is poor because of a lack of sanitation and excessive fertiliser use. The dilapidated and technically obsolete infrastructure means water supply disruptions and significant losses. 60% of the population has insufficient access to water, and the country still has large quantities of obsolete pesticides dating from the Soviet era. Waste management is ineffective and not sufficiently systematically stimulated, while waste recycling is extremely limited.
What is more, the Czech Republic has already presented itself in the past in this field, one in which nanotechnologies could now be a desirable addition. The use of filtration technologies also makes sense in wine production, where nanotechnology companies are also seeing success, and where the CzDA is also involved in Moldova.
Water and pollution are also among the main themes of the bilateral foreign development cooperation programme in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country sorely needs to develop a sustainable public infrastructure to ensure water supplies, waste management, and sewerage in accordance with the principles of responsible natural resource management as part of environmental protection, and also in the context of promoting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s accession to the EU and the related obligation to comply with relevant Union standards.
At the same time, water quality must be improved by reducing pollution and minimising the release of dangerous chemicals. Similarly important areas with significant overlap with Czech nanotechnologies include the energy and waste management sectors. Access to drinking water and sanitation is also a fundamental problem in Cambodia, Georgia, and Ethiopia.
“Of the wide range of Czech nanotechnology products and technologies we would like to offer these states, I would mention for example the special suspension for water filtration called FN AQUA, which employs purely physical phenomena to remove molecules and microscopic particles of organic impurities and microorganisms. A tap-water filtration system called Clutex Filter is also interesting. This is a household filtration system for removing microplastics and other organic impurities from water. In the field of the industrial filtration of oils and other liquids, we offer nanofiber membranes that are a very suitable medium for mechanically filtering liquids during the production of oils, spirits, beer, wine, and other beverages,” Lukáš Konečný added.
Czech nanotechnologies also offer interesting possibilities in energy storage and energy saving, whether nano batteries for the safe storage of large amounts of electricity, or nano optics. This latter technology comprises the special treatment of lamps, allowing the light to be guided in any direction from the source, at any angle and cone shape, thereby significantly improving the lighting effectiveness. Many nanotechnology products are also used to protect surfaces in households and offices.
In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to mention that this year work will be done to incorporate another thematic pillar called “Advanced medical materials and biomedicine” into the mentioned catalogue. Czech nanotechnology companies are already manufacturing facemasks, respirators and filters for facemasks made from nanofibers. These protective aids demonstrate excellent ability to catch particles between 80 and 200 nm in size, which is the average virus size.
“We have already had incredibly positive responses to the public database of Czech nanotechnologies, one of the outputs. We are satisfied with the new platform and consider it to be the professional presentation of Czech nanotechnologies at home and abroad. We would not have completed such thorough work without the contribution of the Czech Development Agency, and offer our great thanks for their financial support,” Lukáš Konečný added.