“Nanotechnology is an idea that most people simply didn’t believe.”- Ralph Merkle
What is the biggest issue everyone is facing around the globe? Think, think! Environment Problems? Yes, right! I have got good readers, you guys always answer my questions correctly. Now, enough of the talking. Let’s get to the point.
Over the years, human activities have unintentionally devastated the environment, leading to climate change, global warming, digital carbon footprint, pollution, ozone layer depletion, waste disposal, and many more issues.
Therefore, protecting the environment has become an important yet critical challenge for the human race. It is high time for us to repair the environment. But how? One of the solutions to these environment-related issues is nanotechnology. Nanotechnology? Are you reading this term for the first time? No worries, I will tell you everything about it.
What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is a branch of science and technology that deals with dimensions of less than 100 nanometers, especially for the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules. The concept was discovered in 1959 by Dr. Richard P. Feynman, and the term nanotechnology was first coined in 1974 by Norio Taniguchi.
Nanotechnology can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, physics, engineering, and biology. It is even used to reduce and prevent damage and repair the environment.
Impacts of Nanotechnology on the Environment
Nanotechnology has the potential to have a significant impact on the environment. From saving raw materials to decreasing greenhouse gasses, it can help us to repair the environment. It can majorly help us with the following things:
Saving the Seas
We have all read the news about oil spilling into the seas, damaging the oceans, rivers, and marine life residing within. The nanotechnology-based solutions help to save the seas in several ways:
It can yield a new generation of nanomembranes for the separation of water contaminants by removing and reducing water contaminants.
Nanotechnology-based solutions can remove radioactive waste.
The advancement of nanotechnology can help to expand the water supply by developing cost-effective treatments that can overcome the major challenges that current treatment technologies face.
Nanotechnology helps in water cleaning by utilizing iron nanoparticles to remove organic solvents in groundwater.
Cleaning the Air
The planet is warming, and the polar ice caps are melting, all because of an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide. It is the biggest threat to the environment and the human race. Thus, it has resulted in increased amounts of greenhouse gasses, leading to drastic climate change.
Methods for the separation of carbon dioxide from gasses are highly expensive and not competitive for large-scale applications. However, the nanomaterial can work in the same yet cost-effective way without even additional compounds.
Various nanoparticles are being developed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The addition of nanoparticles to fuel can improve fuel efficiency and reduce the rate of greenhouse gas production resulting from fossil fuel users.
Batteries are made up of heavy metals like mercury, lead, nickel, and cadmium, which can contaminate the environment and can cause potential threats to human health. But, with the help of nanotechnology, the use of cathode particles from lithium-ion batteries has made it possible to recycle and regenerate batteries to use as new ones.
Application of Nanotechnology to Environmental Issues
Nanotechnology researchers and developers are using the following avenues to repair the environment.
Generating less pollution during the manufacture of materials.
For the production of solar cells to generate electricity at a competitive cost.
To increase electricity generated by windmills.
For cleaning organic chemicals that pollute the groundwater.
Cleaning up oil spills.
For the reduction of fuel cell costs.
For storing hydrogen for fuel cell-powered cars.
Negative Impacts of Nanotechnology on Environment
Nanomaterials can also have a negative impact. It has the potential to unintentionally form new toxic products. Although there is not much information regarding the environmental risks of manufactured nanomaterials. A few studies have been conducted to discover the impact of nanometers on the environment. There is no clear guideline to qualify the effects.
A workshop, conducted by the National Science Foundation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency, to identify the risks concerning nanomaterials. The workshop aimed at determining the exposure and toxicity of manufactured nanoparticles and the sustainability of nanomaterials.
Following a critical risk assessment, issues regarding nanoparticles were identified:
Manufactured nanoparticle’s exposure assets.
Toxicology of nanoparticles.
Environmental and biological fate, persistence, transport, and transformation of manufactured nanoparticles.
Recyclability and sustainability of manufactured nanoparticles.
Today, nanotechnology is becoming more and more real, and there is a need for discussion about the possible advances and impacts of technology on the environment. The increase in environmental problems is visible. Nanotechnology can cause positive and significant changes to air quality, water quality, and sustainable energy generation. It can help us to repair the environment and save it.
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