Research and Markets: New Materials R&D and Commercialization Current Status and Future Directions
This report on Energy and Environmental Technologies is a review of research and commercialization of new materials and materials chemistries in the United States, including nanotechnology. This publication offers broad coverage of commercial offerings, development programs, and the underlying applied research that may yield products in new energy sources and environmental technologies in the near future.
The United States is late to the game in these areas. Both Europe and East Asia lead the US in renewable energy technologies and deployment. Conversely, the US economy is not only more energy intensive, in terms of consumption per GDP, but its use of fossil fuels as a portion of energy consumption is the highest among developed nations.
A renewed political interest in the petroleum producing nations of the Middle East, along with spiking petroleum prices, highlights the concern over energy security in the US. Indeed it is the availability of energy sources, not an acute concern for the environment that tends to drive interest in clean fuels and energy conservation.
This heightened American interest in solving energy and environmental problems is complemented by the potential of new materials technologies to make significant contributions to commercial products. Many of the technologies we discuss here, such as catalysts, batteries, fuel cells, solar cells, and chemical sensors, are historically based on surface science and electrochemistry. And it is from these two disciplines that much of the work we now call nanotechnology has emerged.
As a result, many in the nanotechnology community herald energy and closely related environmental technologies as the logical target for efforts in nanotechnology. Luminaries like Richard Smalley, the discoverer of fullerenes, and Jim Von Ehr, the founder of Zyvex, have called for major initiatives to invest in nanotechnology applications in these fields.
Our purpose here is to draw connections between ongoing developments in new materials and materials chemistry research and progress in certain technological applications in energy and environmental improvement. We cover activities in large and small companies as well as universities and government laboratories concerned with key segments of the energy and environmental industries. Beyond rhetoric regarding nanotechnology, there are substantial core efforts to extend materials technologies to commercial applications.
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