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Green nanotechnology refers to the use of nanotechnology to enhance the environmental-sustainability of processes currently producing negative externalities. It also refers to the use of the products of nanotechnology to enhance sustainability. It is about doing things right in the first place—about making green nano-products and using nano-products in support of sustainability.

Contents

Definition

Green nanotechnology is the development of clean technologies, "to minimize potential environmental and human health risks associated with the manufacture and use of nanotechnology products, and to encourage replacement of existing products with new nano-products that are more environmentally friendly throughout their lifecycle."[1]

Goals

Green Nanotechnology has two goals: producing nanomaterials and products without harming the environment or human health, and producing nano-products that provide solutions to environmental problems. It uses existing principles of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering[2] to make nanomaterials and nano-products without toxic ingredients, at low temperatures using less energy and renewable inputs wherever possible, and using lifecycle thinking in all design and engineering stages.

In addition to making nanomaterials and products with less impact to the environment, Green Nanotechnology also means using nanotechnology to make current manufacturing processes for non-nano materials and products more environmentally friendly. For example, nanoscale membranes can help separate desired chemical reaction products from waste materials. Nanoscale catalysts can make chemical reactions more efficient and less wasteful. Sensors at the nanoscale can form a part of process control systems, working with nano-enabled information systems. Using alternative energy systems, made possible by nanotechnology, is another way to "green" manufacturing processes.

The second goal of Green Nanotechnology involves developing products that benefit the environment either directly or indirectly. Nanomaterials or products directly can clean hazardous waste sites, desalinate water, treat pollutants, or sense and monitor environmental pollutants. Indirectly, lightweight nanocomposites for automobiles and other means of transportation could save fuel and reduce materials used for production; nanotechnology-enabled fuel cells and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) could reduce pollution from energy generation and help conserve fossil fuels; self-cleaning nanoscale surface coatings could reduce or eliminate many cleaning chemicals; and enhanced battery life could lead to less material use and less waste. Green Nanotechnology takes a broad systems view of nanomaterials and products, ensuring that unforeseen consequences are minimized and that impacts are anticipated throughout the full life cycle.[3]

Current research

One major project that is being worked on is the development of nanotechnology in solar cells. Solar cells are more efficient as they get tinier and solar energy is a renewable resource. The price per watt of solar energy is currently lower than one dollar.[4]

See also

References

Further reading

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