NSTI Nanotech 2009

Nanomaterials Nexus for Sustainable Future

A. Vaseashta, J. Alvelo, E.W. Braman, P.T. Susmann, G. Gallios, O.P. Robert, M. Vaclavikova

Keywords: Nanomaterials, Pollution, Water purification, Sensors


Nanomaterials with new architectures, improved functionality, and unique characteristics have been developed with applications in chemical and biological sensors, nanobiotechnology, nanophotonics, analysis of cellular processes, and contamination remediation. This presentation outlines the use of nanomaterials for environment pollution monitoring, sensing, and mitigation as a pathway to sustainability. It is widely known that a perpetual increase in population and thus consumption of fossil fuels has led to increased pollution worldwide - a leading contributor to chronic and deadly health disorders and diseases affecting millions of people each year. Long-term exposure to air pollution provokes inflammation, accelerates atherosclerosis, and alters cardiac function. Availability of clean water and its sanitary suitability is directly related to health, and a strategic resource for national security. Many developing countries lack regulations and hence industries discharge waste without treatment into downstream rivers. Synthetic dyes from textile and leather industries, among others have been identified as one of the most critical and widespread non-biodegradable contaminants. Furthermore, pharmaceuticals such as general-purpose antibiotics, steroidal non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, etc. are among the most common drugs found in the water supply. Hence, pollutants in water pose a wide range of analytical challenges and questions. The presentation focuses on three interconnected and underpinning aspects of sustainability, (a): use of nanomaterials to monitor, detect, and remediate the environmental pollution, (b): responsible manufacturing of nanomaterials by employing principles of “green chemistry”, and (c): to drastically reduce waste and emission by-products with its use as catalysts for enhanced efficiency; materials in underground CO2 sequestration; efficient thin film photovoltaic devices; fuel cells; and biodegradable consumable products. The presentation will cover an exhaustive overview of the scope of our investigation and some specific applications relating to the use of nanomaterials for detection of pollution in air and water and approaches under investigation to mitigate contaminants. Our efforts in the areas such as toxicology, fate, transport, and bioavailability of nanomaterials, as well as human exposures to these materials are in progress and some initial findings will be outlined. It is expected that such emerging and potentially transformative studies will make a major contribution to improving the quality of the life of citizens worldwide, in particular in sectors such as material sciences, and human health. Furthermore, it also offers a new direction in research and development and economic development arising from those efforts.
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