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

Mohawk Valley Water

mohawk river valley Mohawk River Mohawk Valley water will likely save us from experiencing events like the 134,000 acre wildfire in California, where 13,000 people are now being evacuated. Fueled by dry vegetation from a relentless drought, these fires seems to signal the start of an epoch dry period Northern CA must now address differently than in the past. It’s not just California’s problem, it’s a problem for the majority of the US residents–California’s Central Valley produces 2/3 of all the produce grown in the US. Northern California is home to a vital national resource, the Silicon Valley, where new technology is incubated and produced for worldwide use. Computer and biotech industries cluster about the San Francisco Bay area. Their vibrancy reflects that of the California economy, which in 2014 was the world’s eighth largest. With California’s ever-increasing droughts and with wildfires burning with only limited control, it seems reasonable to ask:

  • Why is California so dry, and is this trend likely to continue?
  • How can this precipitous state of instability be contained so that precious resources are not further endangered?

Too Dry

In 2014 the New York Times reported that 17 California rural communities providing water to 40,000 people were within four months of running out of water. The situation hasn’t improved. Agricultural demands, home consumption and landscaping requirements have increased even as water resources continue to diminish. And people have often proven unresponsive to conservation needs, allowing water guzzlers to grab more than their fair share. California’s 2014 rainfall year ended with one of the lowest rainfalls since the 1920’s.

A more stable California

Because California has limited water resources and a high population density, it makes sense to do things differently. Californians love their state, but they also need enough water for their needs and safety from dangerous and uncontrollable wild fires. On the upside, it seems desalination is coming to the fore to increase available fresh water. High tech materials like graphene may also make the production of abundant fresh water from the ocean possible on a broad scale. More effective waste water recycling is possible–Australia has shown us the way, with the largest recycling plant of its kind anywhere.

Moving to a greener place

Today’s industries have become adept at decentralizing, with workers telecommuting from anywhere on the planet. Mobile technology is widely and available to people and companies at reasonable cost. (Google, provider of the world’s most popular search engine, has decided to penalize website rankings for those who have mobile unfriendly layouts.)

A new beginning that works better

It makes sense for companies to be located where there’s excellent transportation, services and resources, including abundant water and natural beauty. Herkimer and other towns in the Mohawk Valley region can provide the safety of a water-rich geography, a technological backbone and a convenient location. One quarter of the total North American population is located within 300 miles of Herkimer County. Andrew Cuomo, Governor of NY, has initiated a $1.5 billion upstate economic development competition.

New York’s upstate regions are battling each other for one of three $500 million prizes. Proposals may be submitted until October 5, 2015. Rebuild and renew in New York’s Mohawk Valley where you’ll find New York’s resources, green energy, seemingly unlimited water supplies and the majestic Adirondack Forest – largest in the US. Embrace the serenity of nature and the resources you need to live well.