Green Nanotechnology Initiative Launched

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars -- a project supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts -- announced on Feb. 8 a series of meetings and a symposium that should result in a report about how to apply the principles of green chemistry and green engineering to nanotechnology.

This new GreenNano series at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies aims to advance development of clean technologies using nanotechnology, to minimize the environmental and human health risks associated with the manufacture and use of nanotechnology products in general, and to encourage replacement of existing products with new nano products that are more environmentally friendly throughout their lifecycle.

This initiative is being led by Dr. Barbara Karn, who has worked with EPA's nanotechnology research program.

"The GreenNano series is designed to explore everything from new nanotechnology products claiming to be better for the environment -- because of saved energy, reduced waste, or safer materials used -- to smart engineering and business practices. It will look at government policies that offer incentives for developing such low-risk practices. The effort also will highlight research in green nanotechnology applications," Karn stated.

"Green nanotechnology isn't a distant 'Star Trek' fantasy," Karn said. "Today, scientists are using nanotechnology to develop small, highly efficient and portable personal solar cells -- using a flexible polymer sheet that can be rolled up and taken anywhere to recharge communications devices like laptop computers and mobile phones. Key nanotechnology companies and researchers are taking responsibility to ensure that nanotech products are produced in environmentally safe ways and that their risks to humans and the environment are minimized both during production and consumption. We want to highlight these efforts and look for ways to help encourage that kind of innovation."

For a complete schedule of GreenNano programs over the next six months, see: http://www.nanotechproject.org.

For additional information on research regarding environmental uses for nanotechnology, including water treatment processes, go to EPA's nanotechnology Web page at http://es.epa.gov/ncer/nano/index.html .

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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