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Environment - Overview - Products - Text

The commercial market for nanotechnology in the field of environment includes applications in:

  • Soil remediation
  • Air remediation
  • Water treatment and remediation
  • Monitoring and sensors
  • Soil remediation 

Examples of nanoparticles applied for soil remediation include nano zerovalent iron (nZVI) which has been used to treat soil for Chromium (Cr(VI)) and organochlorine insecticides such as DDT. It also includes iron phosphate which has been used to remediate lead and copper and emulsified nano iron, used to remediate Trichloroethylene (TCE).

Air remediation has its main applications in:

  • CO2 capture
  • NOx adsorption
  • Removal of VOCs from the air
  • Adsorption of dioxins

Relevant materials at the nano-scale include, but not exclusively, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide (ZnO), tungsten oxide and ferrosoferric oxide (Fe3O4), carbon nanotubes and nanofibres. Products include photocatalytic coatings (e.g. for anti-fogging mirrors, self-cleaning ceramic tiles and pollution-controlling construction materials); catalytic converters (e.g. for vehicles); and air purification and filtration systems.

Water remediation covers ground water remediation, trace contaminant detection and surface water treatment. In terms of nanomaterials, the most important are carbon nanotubes (CNTs), titanium dioxide, zero-valent iron, calcium carbonate and iron oxide. Products include

  • Filtration systems based on nanoparticles
  • Nano-porous membranes
  • Water filtration based on carbon nanotubes
  • Nano-structured water desalination membranes
  • Water filtration using nanocomposites

Sensors for environmental applications are largely based on nanoparticles or carbon nanotubes. For example, the sensing ‘electronic nose’ uses changes in resistivity that are linearly related to the concentration of the various odorants enabling the analysis of complex mixtures, giving indication of their concentration at levels superior to that of the human nose. Chemical sensing technology integrating carbon nanotube sensing elements with CMOS technology on a silicon chip offers ultrahigh sensitivity in a small package and provides key cost and performance benefits vis-à-vis conventional chemical sensor technologies.

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