Foresight Institute Logo
Image of nano

Archive for the 'Biosphere' Category

Nanotechnology — or maybe chemistry — to make greenhouse gas into feedstock

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 7th, 2006

It can be hard to tell whether a given piece of research is nanotechnology or “just” chemistry. In this case, I would’ve said the latter, but Nanoforum carried the story (free reg. reg’d), so it’s honorary nanotech at least. In any case, it could be important. For years we at Foresight have theorized that nanotech [...]

Nanotechnology particle paint kills drug-resistant bacteria

Posted by Christine Peterson on September 12th, 2006

The Australian site InfoLink brings word of a new nanotech product from Australia-based company Nanovations: a silver nanoparticle-based paint which will kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The product is meant for hospitals and other facilities that have serious problems with infections caused by such bacteria. (Credit: Meridian) One problem not mentioned in the story is disposal and [...]

Is opposing nanotechnology really being Friendly to the Earth?

Posted by Christine Peterson on August 3rd, 2006

Friends of the Earth Australia has published a special issue of their magazine titled Nanotechnology: Small Science, Big Questions! (4.3 MB PDF). It includes over 17 short pieces opposing or questioning the endeavor. On the upside, the group does appear to appreciate the magnitude of the changes that will eventually come from the more advanced [...]

GreenNano webcast tomorrow morning

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 18th, 2006

Sorry for the late notice, but I just learned about the live webcast tomorrow at 10:30 AM U.S. East Coast time by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Wilson Center (ignore typo “Apr 11, 03:20 PM”): How “Green” is Nanotechnology? A Corporate Perspective “Nanotechnology has the potential to be doubly ‘green.’ It promises to [...]

Nanotech ultracapacitors from MIT

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 21st, 2006

As a battery engineer’s daughter, I appreciate how hard it is to make a better battery. Now Technology Review reports that some MIT researchers are taking a different approach: make a better capacitor. Excerpts: “The new technology, developed at MIT’s Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems, should improve ultracapacitors by swapping in carbon nanotubes, thereby [...]

Team of 15 companies and NGOs call for nanosafety funding

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 14th, 2006

A group of 15 companies and non-profit organizations today sent a letter to each member of the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Committees, calling for an increase in federal nanosafety funding. While the National Nanotechnology Initiative legislation has included funding for creating new nanotechnologies, and for studying their societal impact, it did not mandate a [...]

Live webcast on Green Nano this Thursday

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 13th, 2006

Check out the Wilson Center website this Thursday, February 16, at 2-3 PM Eastern time for the first event of the Green Nano series, sponsored by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies: “The GreenNano series aims to advance development of clean technologies using nanotechnology, to minimize the environmental and human health risks associated with the manufacture [...]

US-Italy team builds molecular motor powered by sunlight

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 25th, 2006

From “Chemists at Italy’s University of Bologna, UCLA and the California NanoSystems Institute have designed and constructed a molecular motor of nanometer size that does not consume fuels; their nano motor is powered only by sunlight…The nano motor can work continuously without any external interference, and operates without consuming or generating chemical fuels or [...]

Risk assessment for nanomaterials

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 24th, 2005

Now we have Jo Anne Shatkin of Cadmus Group on assessing risks of nanoscale materials. She described the process she uses, making the point that hazards are different from risks—no material is completely safe, and there is no risk if there is no exposure. Risk = hazard x exposure probability. Risk assessment is for making [...]

Environmental benefits of nanotech

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 24th, 2005

Next up: Shannon Lloyd of First Environment on the potential environmental benefits of nanotech. She uses a life cycle assessment process to evaluate potential nanotech products. She emphasized that there are always tradeoffs in making these assessments and decisions. Costs are included. So far they’ve looked at nanotech for auto body panels and automotive catalysts [...]

Environmental Defense press conference, Foresight response

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 20th, 2005

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Keay Davidson describes an Environmental Defense press conference calling for more testing of nanomaterials, and Foresight’s response: “Despite their cautionary tone, the Environmental Defense speakers’ remarks were welcomed Wednesday by Christine Peterson, vice president of public policy at the best-known institutional defender of nanotechnology, the Foresight Nanotech Institute in Palo [...]

DuPont and Environmental Defense advocate 10% for nanotech testing

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 13th, 2005

[Update: see comments for link to full article] In an opinion editorial expected to run in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) today [Update: it ran June 14], Environmental Defense President Fred Krupp and DuPont CEO Chad Holliday outline the steps that policymakers, academics, businesses and nonprofits need to take to maximize the potential and [...]

Environmental benefits from…nanotoilets?

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 25th, 2005

You may laugh, or at least smile, but the environmental benefits already resulting from the so-called nanotech toilet are substantial. With a “roughness” reported at under 30 nanometers, evidently these fixtures need much less cleaning, which means much less of that nasty chemical cleanser going down the drain. Oh, and they should be healthier for [...]

Nanoparticle-release complaint cast in doubt

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 22nd, 2005

David Berube at U. South Carolina, in an ongoing campaign against nanohype, has been looking into complaints by the ETC Group that a nanoparticle product was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for use to prevent erosion on Taos Pueblo land in New Mexico. His conclusion: “a review of the actual event discredits their [...]

Nanotech for global health and sustainable development

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 2nd, 2005

Call for papers due September 1 for a special issue of the long-term oriented Journal of Evolution & Technology: "How can genetic engineering and nanotechnology, used safely and effectively, help decrease malnutrition, starvation, and disease?…How can a specific emerging technology, like genetic engineering or nanotechnology, further global health and sustainable development? What are the safety, equity and intellectual property concerns?…What should the relative application be of the proactionary and precautionary principles in regulating new technologies promoting global health?" Big, complex issues meriting lots of exploration.–CP

Nanotechnology Used to Study Environment

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 20th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley Lab are using nanotechnology to learn how to clean up environmental contaminants like nuclear waste. They are also using supercomputers and state-of-the-art imaging to predict how quickly pollutants react with minerals in soils and aquifers. This article from the Daily Californian says they are studying kinetics, or rates, of reactions which occur at the earthís surface using a nanoscale approach. They started to look at the reactions that take place at the pore scale and plan to expand their scope from nanometers to meters in the months to come. This research has implications for transport of contaminants, especially of radioactive materials, but also for oil or ore recovery. This overview contains more details, references and a picture of a device used to grow and monitor nanocrystals important for our environment."

Greenpeace UK position on nanotech: it depends

Posted by RobertBradbury on December 6th, 2004

Christine Peterson points out a letter from Greenpeace UK Chief Scientist Doug Parr to the editors of the Times regarding comments from Tracy Brown from Sense About Science asserting that Greenpeace is opposed to nanotechnology. It appears that is not entirely accurate. They may support nanotechnology if a case can be made that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Buckyballs may be Toxic

Posted by Jim Lewis on March 29th, 2004

Dr_Barnowl writes "The Register has printed this article quoting Nanotechnology Linked to Organ Damage – Study in the Washington Post reporting that Buckyballs are toxic in concentrations around that typically found of other pollutants. While this is not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, the reported toxic effects are severe enough to provoke concern." Instapundit Glenn Reynolds comments on the Washington Post story and what it means for the nanotechnology industry PR strategy with respect to MNT. Reynolds also provides links to comments on the story from bloggers Howard Lovy and Phil Bowermaster.

Molecular recycling a difficult goal

Posted by Jim Lewis on February 12th, 2004

The following interchange between Foresight President Christine Peterson and Our Molecular Future author Douglas Mulhall resulted from a Small Times column by Mulhall titled Incorporate disassembly into every self-assembled nanotech product, first brought to our attention by Senior Associate Robert Bradbury. In this article, Doug Mulhall says that nanotech products are already being produced which cannot be disassembled by current technologies, even incineration or (presumably) by acids, etc. Foresight President Christine Peterson asks readers whether this is true; can examples be cited? "This seems unlikely to me, but I'm willing to be educated if there are indeed examples of this."

Cytochrome Structure : Natures Solar Panel

Posted by harperb on October 16th, 2003

Dr_Barnowl writes "The BBC reports that scientists at Purdue university have mapped out the structure of cytochrome in blue-green algae.

Cytochromes are the core of the photosynthetic process, making them an interesting photo-electro-chemical curiosity and potentially a model for nanotech systems with similar functions, although less "squishy" alternates might be more efficient."