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Posted: December 25, 2007
Nanotechnology the answer to air pollution?
(Nanowerk News) The emerging field of nanotechnology could provide a solution to the soaring air pollution caused by automobile emissions worldwide, scientists say.
Research shows that nano-treatment of engines can cut down toxic gas emissions by up to 90 per cent, Prof J Narayan of North Carolina State University told PTI here.
"Use of nanotechnology based systems increases the rate of pre-emission carbon trapping considerably, which is the main constituent of carbon dioxide," explains Narayan. "Thus, it causes cleaner emissions," he added.
Nanotechnology, a very important branch of applied science that deals with matters on atomic and molecular scale, "has a considerable role to play in improvement of energy efficiency," Director of Ansal Institute of Technology M P Singh said.
"Environmental degradation due to automobile emissions is a big issue today. Using nanotechnology can help us to mitigate air pollution considerably," said Ravi V Bellamkonda of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Scientists are of the view that the single largest influence of air pollution is the amount of carbon dioxide and motor vehicles worldwide are a major contributor to the gas in the atmosphere.
"Nano formulation can augment fuel efficiency by up to 35 per cent as it reduces per capita consumption. That means we have to use smaller amount of materials," Narayan said.
"It (nano-treatment) reduces friction among various engine parts considerably and in turn adds to the lubricating quality of the machine," Narayan said.
With lowering of the fuel combustion rate, air pollution rate also comes down, scientists said.
Upholding the fact that "nano-treatment" helps to protect internal surfaces of the machines, Narayan added "in future nanometals -- which are ductile as well as tough enough -- may play an important role in improving fuel efficiency."
Over a hundred scientists gathered to exchange their ideas and experiences at an International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, organised by Ansal Institute of Technology, recently in Gurgaon.
"Nanotechnology doesn't replace any system, but it improvises the existing ones," Bellamkonda said.
Scientists often attribute emission rate from a vehicle to its weight as well, along with the other factors. "Weight of vehicles is a momentous factor as far as pollution is concerned," Bellamkonda said.
"Gas exhausted from the aircraft pollute the atmosphere. But by using nanotechnology, if we can reduce weight of the aircraft, it will score down the emission as well," he explained.
The less fuel consumed equals less carbon emissions, scientists said. But there are some hidden areas as well that should be studied carefully before using nanotechnology, they warned.
"This particular section of science can bring about some revolutionary changes, but no organised study has been done to ascertain the possible hazards nanotechnology application can cause yet," M P Singh said.