Joined: 16 Mar 2004
|Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:35 am Post subject: Nanotechnology may offer solutions to climate change
|Efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions have primarily been focused on the macro world, such as cleaning up power plant emissions and encouraging consumers to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, but global consulting company Frost & Sullivan said this week that nanotechnology could also be used in the battle against climate change.
Nanoparticle additives could increase the fuel efficiency of fuel engines, resulting in carbon dioxide (CO2) savings and play a key role in cutting the cost of solar cells.
Frost & Sullivan quoted a study by Oakdene Hollins, which the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned to look at areas where nanotechnology could have “a beneficial environmental impact above current technology and the barriers preventing its adoption”.
Patented technoThe report looked at five areas where nanotechnology could be helpful, which included the areas of fuel additives, solar cells, the hydrogen economy, batteries and supercapacitors, and insulation.
In terms of fuel additives, nanoparticle additives could increase the fuel efficiency of diesel engines by about 5%, which would result in a maximum of as much as three-million metric tons a year of CO2 in the UK.
But the study cautioned that the benefits to the UK diesel-powered fleet had to be tempered by concerns about the health impact of free nanoparticles in diesel exhaust gases.
Solar cells were also a promising area since nanotechnology could help decrease the cost of production of solar cells, enabling more cells to be used.
"If a distributed solar generation grid met 1% of our electricity demand, approximately 1,5-million tons a year of CO2 could be saved," the study said. The major impediment was incorporating nanotechnology into the solar cell and programmes had to be developed for getting fundamental research out of the laboratory and into the commercial arena.
While deployment of a hydrogen economy was some 40 years into the future, nanotechnology was expected play an important role in terms of hydrogen storage for vehicles, for improving the efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells, and for developing a method to produce hydrogen.
Electric cars would also benefit from nanotechnology by helping advance the battery technology used in these zero-emission vehicles.
Nanotechnology could provide a remedy for the charge time problem by allowing electric vehicles to be recharged faster.
Nanotechnology could help improve insulation for solid-walled buildings, Frost & Sullivan noted, adding that if an effective nanotech insulation could be found, CO2 emissions could be reduced as much as three-million tons a year.
Story posted: 28th May 2007