An Essay on Energy-Related Topics
From the time of its conception, nanotechnology has been a hot topic of discussion due to its promising applications in a wide spectrum of industries. As Mihail Roco, chair of the White House subcommittee that works with the National Nanotechnology Initiative agency, said, nanotechnology is all about innovation (Feder 2007). Nanotechnology’s role in energy breakthrough, for instance, is highly anticipated. As Claude Canizares, MIT’s Bruno Professor of Physics commented, there is a need to face the world’s biggest dilemma- that of energy and finding alternative source (“Nanotechnology” 2006). And nanotechnology may just be the solution.
With regards to energy application, nanotechnology is focused on energy storage and energy saving (“Nanotechnology” 2002). Energy storage deals with the development of high-density lithium battery and other nano processed materials (2002). Energy saving is geared towards improving thermal conductivity by reducing response time (2002). Energy may also be conserved by creating raw materials for batteries and battery module system (2002).
Nanomaterials also have great potentials to produce clean energy. Materials may be developed, integrated and processed to produce clean energy. The effects of having clean energy may also help solve some of the world’s environmental problems. The onslaught of hybrid cars in the market is a good sign that people are concerned with unclogging the environment from the effects of pollution. Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motors are just some of automotive manufacturers that offer hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles (Forman 2004). The use of alternative fuels cells is on the rise. Honda, for instance, allowed its FCX fuel vehicle to be used in the city of San Francisco (2004). The vehicle uses nano-perforated membranes (2004). Furthermore, SRI, a Menlo Park, California non-profit technology research institute, is working on nanofibers or high aspect ratio nanomaterials (2004). Since nanofibers are infinitesimal in nature, energy emanates faster and recharges quicker, a feature vital in running a hybrid car (2004). The resulting battery therefore has eight times more power than that of a traditional one (2004).
Nanomaterials are also being developed to purify water through catalytic hydrogasification (Beltramini 2005). The hydrogen economy will also benefit from nanotechnology with the production of hydrogen from biomass (2005). Coal gasification and natural gas to DME and GTL is also being developed using nanotechnology.
It is interesting to note that a California-based company has recently been awarded a patent for its nanomaterials aimed at producing clean energy. QuantumSphere was awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,282,167 for its Nano Gas Phase Condensation, a manufacturing process that allows production of active catalyst materials which improves battery life, fuel cells and hydrogen production for hybrid vehicles (“QuantumSphere” 20008). The process enables production of materials while reducing production-related costs (2008).
Nanomaterials also show promising impact on solar energy. It is estimated that by 2035, electricity from light would generate up to 10 percent of the world’s electricity (“Nanotechnology” 2006). This could also aid in curtailing emission of carbon dioxide (2006). According to Vladimir Bulovic of MIT, nanodots and nanorods could provide change the energy source and maybe better than the silicon commonly used in solar energy devices today (2006). He added that plugging 2% of continental United States with 10 percent of photovoltaics (the term for generating from light) would be enough to cover the entire energy needs of the country (2006).
Awareness towards the use of nanomaterials in energy and environmental development is vital in its success. It is therefore important for corporations to be open to the public their nanotechnology research programs, to inform them the benefits and disadvantages of nanotechnology and nanomaterials.
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