DOE: Nanomanufacturing for Energy Efficiency workshop report (2007)

Subject Area:
Non-NNI External Workshop Reports
EHS-related Documents
Author: DOE
Publication Date: Dec. 1 2007

Description:
Industrial stakeholders recognize that significant energy savings are possible from the use of nanotechnologies in industrial manufacturing settings. Estimates of 0.5 to 1.1 quadrillion Btu/year* of energy savings and over 60 million metric tons of CO2e/yr† reduction have been predicted as benefits from a limited set of nanotechnology applications in the chemicals, refining, and maritime industries alone. Given this potential, accelerating the development of nanomanufacturing technologies is critical in reducing industrial energy consumption and strengthening the global competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector. However, substantial technical challenges must be overcome to enable a commercially viable nanomanufacturing industry.   More then 100 industry experts, scientists, and engineers met on June 5-6, 2007 at the Nanomanufacturing for Energy Efficiency Workshop to identify nanomanufacturing research, development and demonstration (RD&D) needs and business initiatives that, if implemented, will lead to sizeable energy reductions and increased productivity in the industrial sector in the next 5 to 10 years. The following crosscutting manufacturing areas were identified as target applications:  
  • Catalysis – lower temperature reactions and reduction of byproducts
  • Coatings – low-friction, low-drag, and self-lubricating surfaces
  • Light-weighting – reduced rotating, sliding, and conveying weights
  • Material modification – ultra-hard, wear-resistant, and enhanced properties
  • Separations – alternative to distillation and evaporative processes
  • Thermal management – superior heat transfer fluids, low conductivity barriers
  • Thin films – thermoelectric heat recovery, energy storage

The Workshop sessions identified two applied research and engineering challenges in developing a reliable industrial nanomanufacturing base:

  • the ability to produce nanomaterials with the requisite qualities and in quantities useful for industry manufacturing applications, and
  • the ability to integrate these nanomaterials at an industrial scale into useful products without losing the nanomaterial’s unique properties that produce the desired result.

Nanotechnology Fact

Although federally-funded R&D yields hard-to-quantify benefits such as students educated, degrees conferred, companies started, patents and copyrights granted, developmental partnerships formed, and private sector investment inflows, there are many indicators of the impact of this ­­­­­investment.

For example, there are over 1,900 U.S.-based companies conducting R&D, manufacturing, or product sales in nanotechnology in 2016. Of these companies engaged in the nanotechnology sector, over 36% have participated in the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer programs funded by the Federal agencies that participate in the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The most recent Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) found approximately 1,500 companies engaged in nanotechnology with approximately 1,100 of these classified as small businesses (less than 500 employees). The difference in the number of companies cited above can be attributed to the year the data was collected and other methodologies.

A noteworthy impact of the NNI has been the focused investment by NNI-participating agencies in the establishment and development of multidisciplinary research and education centers devoted to nanoscience and nanotechnology. NNI agencies have developed an extensive infrastructure of nearly 100 major interdisciplinary research and education centers and user facilities across the United States. This cutting-edge fabrication and characterization equipment provides state-of-the-art nanoscience tools and expertise for research by non-profit or business organizations, whether small or large, for use-inspired research and some of the user facilities are available free-of-charge for non-proprietary work if the user intends to publish the research results in the scientific literature.

In December 2015, Lux Research estimated that nanotechnology-enabled products generated $1.6 trillion in global revenues in 2014; and that figure is anticipated to increase to $3.5 trillion in 2018.

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