If you accept that man-made CO2 emissions are a major contributing factor to global warming, then finding ways to combat those emissions with nanotechnology are an application area of increasing interest.
A recent column in Nanotech-Now poses the question of whether nanotechnology can be economically used to fight CO2 emissions. The brief column mainly focuses on the main contributor to man-made CO2 emissions: electric power plants.
The nanotechnologies being investigated for reducing carbon emissions in this area are still somewhat speculative, and certainly suffer from the prospect of not ever achieving an economical solution. Retrofitting power plants with bioenzyme ''scrubbers'' appears to remain price prohibitive.
But an attempt was made last year to quantify the impact nanotechnology could have on reducing carbon emissions. The company I work for, Cientifica, released in 2007 a free Whitepaper entitled: Nanotech/Cleantech: Quantifying the Effect of Nanotechnologies on CO2 Emissions.
The results indicated that impact of nanotechnologies in emission reductions will be in three main areas:
'The reduction of emissions from transportation through weight reduction and improved drive train efficiency
'The use of improved insulation in residential and commercial buildings
'The generation of renewable photovoltaic energy
Reduction Of Emissions Due To Use Of Nanotechnologies Source: Cientifica
So by using available technologies, nanotechnology was estimated to be able to reduce carbon emissions by 200,000 tons by 2010, mainly through weight savings and improved combustion in transport applications.
Sounds great'but by 2010 this will only reduce carbon emissions by 0.00027%.
However, if the materials-based advances enabled by nanotechnologies that are still under development as discussed in the Nanotech-Now column are successfully applied than the impact could be far more dramatic.