Nanotechnology and Energy
Nanotechnology provides the ability to improve energy efficiency across all business sectors and to leverage the production of renewable energy economically through new technologies and optimized production process.
Nanotechnologies boost the potential of both traditional energy sources (fossil and nuclear) and renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar, wind, water, tides or biomass. Innovations in nanotechnology may have an effect on each part of the value-added chain in the energy sector.
- Generating sun-light steam: Researchers have shown that sunlight can generate steam with high energy efficiency, concentrated on nanoparticles. The 'solar steam system' is intended to be used for applications such as water purification or disinfection of dental instruments in areas of developing countries without electricity.
- Producing light bulbs with high quality: In one style of high performance light bulbs, a nano-engineered polymer matrix is used. The new bulbs have the benefit of being shatterproof and compact fluorescence light bulbs have twice the power. Other researchers are using arrays of nano-sized structures called plasmonic cavities to build high performance LEDs. Updating incandescent light bulbs by surrounding the standard filament with crystalline material that transforms some of the waste infrared radiation into visible light is another concept under development.
- Enhancing the power produced by windmills: To make windmill blades, an epoxy that includes carbon nanotubes is used. Through the use of nanotube-filled epoxy, stronger and lower weight blades are made possible. The resulting longer blades increase each windmill's amount of electricity produced.
- Generating electricity from waste heat: In order to produce electricity from heat that is normally wasted, these nanotube sheets might be wrapped around hot pipes, such as the exhaust pipe of your car.
- Storing hydrogen for cars powered by fuel cells: To increase the binding energy of hydrogen to the graphene surface in a fuel tank, researchers have prepared graphene layers, resulting in a higher amount of hydrogen storage and thus a lighter fuel tank weight. Other researchers have shown that nanoparticles of sodium borohydride may store hydrogen effectively.
- Reducing the energy used in buildings for heating and cooling: A system with a heat absorbing sheet of zinc-copper nanoparticles on a thin copper layer and a heat reflecting sheet using a thin silver film has been demonstrated by researchers. The concept is to use these materials that absorb and reflect heat to complement existing HVAC systems and to decrease the energy needed to heat and cool buildings.
- Clothing which produces electricity: Piezoelectric nanofibers have been developed by researchers, which are versatile enough to be woven into clothing. To power your cellular phone and other mobile electronic devices, the fibers will transform normal motion into electricity.
- Reduce friction to reduce the use of electricity: Researchers produced lubricants that greatly reduced friction by using inorganic buckyballs.
- Power loss reduction in electrical transmission wires:
- Reducing solar cell prices: Companies have developed solar cells for nanotechnology that can be generated at substantially lower costs than traditional solar cells.
- Improving battery efficiency: Using nanomaterials, companies are currently designing batteries. After being left on the shelf for decades, one such battery would be as good as fresh. It is possible to recharge another battery much faster than traditional batteries.
- Improving the efficiency of fuel cells and reducing their costs: To lower the cost of catalysts used in fuel cells, nanotechnology is being used. These catalysts create hydrogen ions, such as methanol, from gasoline. In order to increase the performance of membranes used in fuel cells to distinguish hydrogen ions from other gases, such as oxygen, nanotechnology is also being used.
- Making it more effective to manufacture fuels from raw materials: By making the manufacture of fuels from low grade raw materials economical, nanotechnology will fix the scarcity of fossil fuels, such as diesel and gasoline. Nanotechnology can also be used to improve engine mileage and make it more effective to manufacture fuels from usual raw materials.