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 ."
Nanotechnology is an emerging field that has great potential for use in commercial, defence and security applications. Nanomaterials and the manufacturing techniques used to create them, however, may pose adverse environmental, health and safety effects. One of the challenges facing this new industry is the design of nanomaterials and nano-manufacturing methods that provide maximum efficiency while minimizing these hazards. Merging green chemistry and nano-science will provide opportunities to meet these challenges and to develop sustainable technologies and materials.
Our goals are to implement the principles of green nano-science to:
(1) Design environmentally benign nanoparticles, test for putative toxicity and redesign as necessary; we are developing methods to prepare libraries of functionalized metal nanoparticles in which the size, shape and functionality can be widely varied. We will study the accumulation of nanoparticles within organisms and the impacts of these nanoparticles on viability, gene expression and development. These data will be used to guide the development of more benign nanoparticles for a wide range of applications. The surface of these nanoparticles will be modified which will direct self-assembly, tune electronic or optical coupling, and further enhance the biologically safety of these nanoparticles.
(2) Develop greener methods for large-scale nanoparticle production through green nano-manufacturing technologies; we will identify acceptable nanoparticle formation reactions that can be carried out in a single solvent phase and that will permit control of particle size. From these studies we will scale up production and develop an integrated micro-reactor platform for deploying the single solvent phase chemistries. We are also exploring gas-phase production of ceramic nanoparticles in micro-reactors to produce materials that should expand our capabilities to produce novel devices for sensors and medicine.
(3) Discover efficient approaches for using nanoparticles in the development of novel nano-devices; Nanomaterials are driving innovation in optical and electronic devices, however, realizing the full potential of nanoscale matter in device technologies requires the integration of the nanoscale building blocks with other components of the device. Nanostructures can also be important precursors in the low-cost and greener manufacture of more traditional micro scaledevices and to exotic new materials. Thus, developing environmentally-benign assembly methods and identifying approaches to interface nanomaterials with macroscopic structures are being explored to produce greener, high-performance devices and nanostructured materials.
The automotive industry will be influenced by thedevelopment and implementation of nanotechnology. It is ourhope to raise the awareness that nanotechnology willpositively influence the business of the automotive industry over the next several years.Due to the small size of nano-materials, their physical/chemical properties (e.g. stability, hardness, conductivity,reactivity, optical sensitivity, melting point, etc.) can bemanipulated to improve the overall properties of conventionalmaterial.Metal nanoparticles are being considered for potential use incatalytic converters since the catalytic reactivity issignificantly enhanced due to the increased surface area ofthe metal. Coolants utilize nanoparticles and nano-powders toincrease the efficiency of heat transfer and potentially reducethe size of the automotive cooling equipment. Somemanufacturers are currently using nano-magnetic fluids inshock absorbers to increase vibration control efficiency.
Wear-resistant, hard-surface nano-coatings are beinginvestigated for applications in bearings, cylinders, valves,and other highly stressed components.High efficiency nano-layers of semiconducting materialsprovide electronic components and systems with a longerlifetime. Sensors based on nano-layer structures findapplications in engine control, airbag, anti-lock brake andelectronic stability program systems. Nanoparticles alsosupport the optimization of conventional components likebatteries, catalysts, solar cells or fuel cells.Nanotechnology is science and engineering, and it is all aboutpractical applications of physics, chemistry and materialproperties. Nanotechnology will influence the auto industryinitially on a very small scale, but will certainly be developedto deliver features, products and processes that are almostunimaginable today