The Economic Contributions of Nanotechnology to Green and Sustainable Growth

Philip Shapira, Jan Youtie, V.A. Basiuk (Editor), E.V. Basiuk (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

One of the impact promises associated with nanotechnology is that it will facilitate greener and more sustainable economic growth. We explore the extent to which nanotechnology development and commercialization is achieving this goal, drawing on secondary sources and available data. After defining the concepts of nanotechnology and green and sustainable development, we examine six nanotechnology application areas that are pertinent to green growth and sustainability. These application areas are assessed relative to their scale and scope through market forecasts, green benefits and potential issues and limitations. These six application areas are: nanoenabled solar cells, energy storage, nanogenerators, thermal energy, fuel catalysis, and water treatment. Nanotechnology-enabled applications in these areas offer potential benefits, such as reduced costs, less toxicity, greater efficiency, operating frequency, voltage, reduced complexity, and reliability. However, many sales forecasts associated with these applications have been adjusted downwards not only as a result of the economic downturn in the first decade of the 2000s but also due to the limited value offered by these nanotechnology-enabled application compared to what is already on the market (the incumbent technology). We find that while green nanotechnologies have the potential to make contributions both to addressing green challenges and to fostering sustainable economic development, development and diffusion is taking longer than previously anticipated, and in some cases the promised scale of benefits is unlikely to be realized. Additionally, the potential life cycle environmental overheads of some complex engineered nanomaterials must be taken more fully into account in assessing net contributions to green growth.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreen Processes for Nanotechnology
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer Nature
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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