Nanotechnologies and Energy
The world population is growing and with it, the demand for energy. Therefore, energy production is one of the pressing global problems that humanity will have to solve in future. We must develop alternative technologies that reduce dependence on polluting fossil fuels, yet be financially viable.
Picture source: nanoyou.eu
Using nanoparticles in the manufacture of solar cells is beneficial. Due to the unique electronic and optical properties of the nano structures they can reduce manufacturing costs and should be able to reach overall higher efficiency levels than conventional ones. They may also be transparent and bendable allowing use in more places than just roofs.
Nanotechnologies are opening the way to many new forms of light bulbs; one example is a nano-engineered polymer matrix used in a new style of high efficiency light bulbs now under study. The bulbs produce white light, similar to sunlight, and can be made in any shape. The new bulbs have the advantage of being shatterproof and twice the efficiency of compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Nanotechnologies can be used to crease the electricity generated by wind turbines. For example, an epoxy containing carbon nanotubes is being used to make turbine blades stronger. Lower weight blades are made possible by the use of nanotube-filled epoxy. The resulting longer blades increase the amount of electricity generated by each windmill.
In these products the nanomaterials are embedded inside a composite, so there is no direct exposure risk to consumers. Workers producing this material might need some specific protection (filter masks, etc.). However, the regulation of nanotechnology is still undefined. Should regulation uphold the "precautionary principle", assuming hazard until it is shown to be absent? Or should it respond to demonstrated risks, thus speeding innovation? And who should decide this, scientists and experts alone, or a panel of experts and citizens?
- nanopinion is an EC-funded project bringing together 17 partners from 11 countries with the aim of monitoring public opinion on what we hope from innovation with nanotechnologies. The project is aimed citizens with a special focus on hard-to-reach target groups, which are people who do not normally encounter and give their opinion nanotechnologies at first hand.
- Dialogue is facilitated online and in outreach events in 30 countries presenting different participatory formats.
- To promote an informed debate, we also run a strong press & social media campaign and offer a repository with more than 150 resources.