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

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

Nanoscale materials have been used for over a thousand years. For example, nanoscale gold was used in stained glass in Medieval Europe and nanotubes were found in blades of swords made in Damascus. However, ten centuries passed before high-powered microscopes were invented, allowing us to see things at the nanoscale and begin working with these materials.

Nanotechnology as we now know it began more than 30 years ago, when tools to image and measure at the nanoscale became available. Around the turn of the century, government research managers in the United States and other countries observed that physicists, biologists, chemists, electrical engineers, optical engineers, and materials scientists were working on interconnected, multidisciplinary issues emerging at the nanoscale. In 2000, the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was created to help these researchers benefit from each other’s insights, accelerate technology development, and foster commercialization across disciplines.

To learn more, see What is Nanotechnology?

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