WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2006 -- A new series of meetings, dubbed the GreenNano series, will focus on how business practices and government policies regarding the growing field of nanotechnology can result in products that are more environmentally friendly throughout their lifecycle.
The GreenNano series, being held by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, is an initiative of the center in conjunction with The Pew Charitable Trusts and aims to advance development of clean technologies through the use of green chemistry and green engineering to minimize the environmental and human health risks associated with nanotechnology products.
Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nm wide. According to EmTech research, there are currently about 80 consumer products now on the market containing engineered nanomaterials -- everything from cosmetics and sunscreens to tennis rackets and golf balls. There are more than 600 electronics components, raw materials, drug delivery technologies and software tools which are used to research nanoscale technologies, manipulate nanomaterials and fabricate at the nanoscale.
The first GreenNano event, on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Wilson Center in Washington, will attempt to define green nanotechnology based on what has been learned from green chemistry and from the development of environmentally friendlier manufacturing processes and products.
This initiative is being led by Barbara Karn of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development, a nationally recognized expert in combining nanotechnology with green chemistry, industrial ecology and sustainability who managed the EPA's nanotechnology research program.
"Green nanotechnology isn't a distant 'Star Trek' fantasy," said Karn. "Today, scientists are using nanotechnology to develop small, highly efficient and portable personal solar cells using a flexible polymer sheet that can be rolled up and taken anywhere to recharge communications devices like laptop computers and mobile phones. Key nanotechnology companies and researchers are taking responsibility to ensure that nanotech products are produced in environmentally safe ways and that their risks to humans and the environment are minimized both during production and consumption. We want to highlight these efforts and look for ways to help encourage that kind of innovation."
The effort also will highlight research in green nanotechnology applications, including an eight-session nanotechnology research and environment symposium being held March 26-30 at the American Chemical Society meeting in Atlanta.
In addition to Karn, the Feb. 16 event will feature John Warner, professor and director of the green chemistry program in the school of health and the environment of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and co-author of "The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry" and University of Oregon chemistry professor Jim Hutchison, the head of the green chemistry Hutch Lab research group and holder of a US patent for a process his lab created that manufactures a gold atom nanoparticle without the usual environmentally harmful effects.
For a schedule of GreenNano programs over the next six months, visit: www.nanotechproject.org