Problems Nano Technology Can Solve

Graphene

Miracle substances made from nano-sized material can help us live longer despite serious disease, and can help save our planet from the devastating effects of climate change. Products made from these materials will be researched, designed and produced in the Mohawk Valley of New York.

Graphene is a two-dimensional material made from carbon. In 2010, groundbreaking experimentation with this substance won Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim the Nobel Prize in Physics. A stellar performer in material science, graphene’s electrical, chemical, mechanical and optical properties make it a miracle for innovators in many different fields.

Carbon in graphene is one atom thick, a hexagonal lattice with a single carbon atom at each of its 6 vertices. It’s ironic that a way to overcome the long-term threat to life on Earth posed by climate change is by using the very material that all life on Earth is made from, carbon.

A recent MIT tech review article discusses how super thin graphene can mitigate climate change. Graphene may be the catalyst to protecting us from slow death by  global warming. Graphene traps the carbon that contributes to CO2 pollution and the greenhouse effect—a process that’s causing average temperatures to rise all over the Earth.Through the process of graphene sequestering, this seemingly miraculous material will convert the harmful CO2 it captures into a valuable building material.

Researchers are optimistic about graphene’s huge potential for reducing atmospheric temperature. They calculate that given an area less than 10 percent of the size of the Sahara Desert, the method could remove enough carbon dioxide to make global atmospheric levels return to preindustrial levels within 10 years, even if we keep emitting the greenhouse gas at a high rate during that period.

Another nano-filter solution of global impact is desalination. Many parts of our planet are experiencing severe drought. California has long been a region where much of US produce is grown. But California’s devastating water shortage may severely impact its agricultural production.  With graphene, though, large scale and inexpensive desalination can come to the rescue.Reuters reports that defense contractor Lockheed Martin is developing graphene filters to cleanse wastewater contaminated by oil, using sheets with precisely designed openings of 1 nanometer, a one-atom thick membrane.

Graphene sheets can be produced with precisely-sized holes as small as 1 nanometer, or a billionth of a meter (0.000000001, or 10-9 meters). Lockheed eventually plans on also applying this technology to desalination. The methodology has proven successful, but further refinement  is needed to make the solution cost effective.

Filtering carbon from the atmosphere and removing salt and contaminants from ocean water are critical uses of graphene, an incredibly versatile nano material vital to solving some of the earth’s most pressing problems.

Linda Kaidan

Author:

This blog is my perspective on dwelling in our small village nestled among beautiful forests, farms and open landscapes. Educated in Israel and the US, I have an MS in Computer Science. My viewpoint has been shaped by world travel, friends and benefactors both strangers and people I know. Linda Kaidan