HYPATIA is a multidisciplinary project aiming at integrating nanotechnology into fertilizers for a sustainable Agriculture.
Innovative, non-toxic, low-cost, efficient and easily scalable nanofertilizers will be engineered, characterized and tested on wheat plants.
PROJECT IMPACT. A significant global increase in food production is necessary to meet the world population growth, which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates at 30% by 2050.
Intensifying the application of conventional fertilizers is environmentally unsustainable, causing eutrophication of water bodies and inefficient exploitation of non-renewable natural sources, as phosphate ores. Nanotechnology can offer great opportunities to a sustainable Agriculture.
NANOFERTILIZERS and GREEN CHEMISTRY. Biomimetic nano-apatites (a material similar to the bone mineral component) will be engineered to incorporate macronutrients of plants, such as Nitrogen and Phosphorous, and micronutrient ions.
Hard to believe, few grams of such a small system can incorporate comparable amounts of N and P than kilos of conventional fertilizers.
Being controlled by the slow nanoparticles dissolution, the nutrients are expected be released within few hours (from the NP surface) to few days/weeks (from the NP interior), making fertilization a much more efficient and eco-friendly procedure.
TECHNOLOGY and SCIENCE: Manufacturing and use of nanoparticles need a highly safe control, which requires cutting-edge physico-chemical characterization tools and suitable protocols, which HYPATIA will develop and optimize for nanofertilizers.
FUTURE PERSPECTIVE: The nanoparticles uptake from the plants and the nutrients release are mechanisms still to be understood. This is a challenging task: we intend to study these mechanisms and go deeper in the correlation between plant growth and nanofertilizers!