Nanotechnology vs. climate change

Nanotechnology vs. climate change

Engineering News tells of a study by Frost & Sullivan on how nanotechnology can make a difference in addressing the issue of climate change:

The 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.

Beyond these options, we have the possibility of much cleaner manufacturing via productive nanosystems. I spent today nailing down the program for the conference this fall launching the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems. Don’t miss it! —Christine

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  1. Thermopyle May 31, 2007 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    All of which will become irrelevant once nanotech allows us to directly control the climate.

  2. Dr Coles June 1, 2007 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Why would we want to destroy part of our food chain?

    My point in all of this is that CO2 does NOT cause climate change; I am not arguing that a change in the climate might be occurring. The climate on earth changes all the time and that global change is caused by the Sun (a new NASA finding). All life on the planet is carbon based, CO2 is part of our food chain, and it is not a pollutant. The biggest “green house gas” is water vapor. If climate change is caused by human activity then we would need to start eliminating life on the planet, yes this is absurd, so is the assertion that humans are causing climate change. It just is NOT the truth.

    To date climatology is not a science it is an art and it’s in a fledgling phase and will not become a real science for many years. Science fact 2+2=4 a scientific fact is a truth that never changes can be reproduced by anyone every time.

    We do have economic criminals using this issue for profit and we have some governments (mostly EU countries) using this issue as propaganda to eliminate reliance on oil (The U.N. Report).

    Going green for the average consumer is a pure economic decision no matter what the lip service is. Therefore, some governments and their bodies are spinning what Green is.

    Going Green for many countries of the world has nothing to do with the environment; it has everything to do with energy independence from the oil producing countries.

    To date the cheapest forms of energy are oil and coal.

    Additional information

  3. Kyle Haviland June 1, 2007 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    I remember reading an article here a year or so ago describing a process in which nanotechnology could be used to remove carbon dioxide from the air. I think it said that the carbon produced could then be sold. If that comes about then it doesn’t matter how much oil and coal is used.

  4. Phillip Huggan June 5, 2007 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Dr Coles, I read a recent NASA paper that claimed about 1/3 (I think, maybe as high as 1/2) of past warming is due to solar forcing. The alarms are being sounded for future GHG emissions rises (the 2/3 of the issue we can control), not Solar Radiance fluctuations (the 1/3 we can’t). The % by forcing is dropping as other feedback mechanism continue to come into play. Increased sunlight is a *known* and factored variable, at least by scientists with PhD’s. I hope when China buys up all the oil lobbyists this propaganda stops.

    I don’t agree with the 40 year hydrogen time-table and PEMs are an acceptable methos to harvest hydrogen from freshwater. Almost all composite innovations, call some of them nanotechnologies, in transport vehicle components, reduce hydrocarbon fuel usage.

  5. Prakash June 8, 2007 at 7:34 am - Reply

    It is interesting how consultants can sometimes be ignorant of the basic laws of thermodynamics.

    If nanotechnology allows supercapacitors and super battery systems, then why go through the extra step of creating hydrogen from water and an electricity source, compressing and storing it and then turning it back again to water and electricity in a fuel cell? All those steps will result in energy losses rather than storing the electric potential in the super battery/capacitor system and then discharging it.

    If nanotech advances, it will be electric cars and not hydrogen cars that will rule.

  6. Phillip Huggan June 18, 2007 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    I’m not a battery expert, but two hurdles to battery technologies are:
    1) They wear down after a few hundred recharges (hydrogen PEMs have theoretically unlimited lifespans).
    2) They are toxic waste when worn so disposal becomes more expensive.

    I don’t really care about Carnot limits; overbuilding wind turbines and solar panels enough to “charge” hydrogen fuel cells for global does not approach the Carnot limit of the sunlight shining on Earth. I’m more concerned with ecological stresses. The whole reason the hydrocarbon economy doesn’t work is because of these stresses. The environmental stresses induced by a battery economy would be less than for oil, but still there.

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