Pollution Prevention through Nanotechnology Conference: September 25-26, 2007
EPA invited stakeholders to attend the "Pollution Prevention through Nanotechnology Conference" on September 25-26, 2007, in Arlington , VA -- a forum to exchange ideas and information on using nanotechnology to develop new ways to prevent pollution.
Representatives from industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, and government were invited to focus on current practices and potential research areas in nanotechnology that incorporate the concept of pollution prevention in three major areas:
- Products: Less toxic, less polluting, and wear-resistant.
- Processes: More efficient and waste-reducing.
- Energy and Resource Efficiency: Processes and products that use less energy and fewer raw materials because of greater efficiency.
The conference featured discussions of nanotechnology life-cycle considerations and the responsible development of nanotechnology.
Questions Addressed by Conference Participants:
The questions below were intended to focus presentations and discussions at the conference. Answers to these questions could help guide subsequent work in P2 through nanotechnology.
1. Which nanotechnologies show the greatest promise for preventing pollution?
- This question should be viewed through the lens of life-cycle thinking to minimize the possibility of unintended consequences.
- Which pollution prevention applications are the most likely to find real-world applications?
- What barriers exist to the adoption of nanotechnology-enabled pollution prevention applications?
2. What are the most promising areas of research on pollution prevention applications of nanotechnologies?
- Which research areas could improve our understanding of the full life-cycle of nanomaterials?
- How can the beneficial properties of engineered products of nanotechnology such as increased surface activity, greater conductivity, improved strength-weight ratio, altered optical properties (changes in color or opacity), and flame retardancy be used to improve materials and products and reduce the production of pollutants at their source?
3. What recommendations do conference participants have for promoting and encouraging pollution prevention in the development and application of nanotechnology?
- What actions could be taken, and by whom?
- What mechanisms, programs, or associations could promote the research, development, and adoption of such applications?
- What role can EPA programs play?
Since the inception of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), nanotechnology has become one of the United States' top multi-agency research and development priorities. With 26 federal agency participants, NNI is a federal research and developments program established to coordinate the multi-agency efforts in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology.
EPA is organizing the "Pollution Prevention through Nanotechnology" Conference as one of several actions to further our understanding of nanoscale materials and to encourage responsible development of nanotechnology that prevents pollution. The information from this conference will inform the development of EPA's program for nanoscale materials under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including the development of a Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program for nanoscale materials.
The program began on Tuesday with individual presentations on current and anticipated nanotechnologies with potential pollution-prevention applications. Panel discussions on selected case studies were held on Wednesday. Posters were displayed throughout the conference, and were featured during a Tuesday evening reception and poster session.