Nanotube Production Pollution?

Researchers from MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have identified pollutants and other "substances of concern" created during the production process for carbon nanotubes.  This is an important discovery given that nanotubes are thought to be the building block of the future nanotech industry.

Note that the pollution issues researchers identified are not a result of the nanotubes themselves, but rather are by-products of the process used to create nanotubes. In this way, nanotube production can be equated with any other technological production process, such as plastics or electronics.

Having said that, though, this research is important because the potential problems with nanotube production can be addressed and accounted for early, rather than late.  As Desiree Plata, one of the researchers stated, "Without this work, the environmental and health impacts of the carbon nanotube industry could be severe and costly to repair. . .We would like to help it develop in an environmentally sustainable fashion."

This, I believe, is the concept addressed by The Nano Ethics Group, which I discussed here, put into practice.  By allowing the industry to develop, researchers were able to study the potential impacts and bring problems to light in a timely fashion.  Now, the concerns can be addressed on a going-forward basis.

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Kristen Kulinowski - October 3, 2007 2:10 PM

This is indeed interesting work and I understand a peer-reviewed publication is in preparation. This work connects to emerging efforts to understand the full lifecycle of nanotechnology impacts during their manufacture, use and disposal. It also connects to "Safety by Design," a phrase coined by CBEN director Vicki Colvin to capture the idea of applying our ingenuity to maximize the benefits of nanotechnology while not introducing new problems. I look forward to following the evolution of this work as it progresses.

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