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Could nanotechnology tidy up the planet without leaving a dangerous residue of its own

It's likely that you've recently swirled nanotechnology down your sink. Antimicrobial silver nanoparticles, for example, are added to food containers, socks, and cleaning products such as floor polish. But could nanoparticles – measuring less than 100 nanometres wide – clean more than just your house? Could nanotechnology tidy up the planet without leaving a dangerous residue of its own?

The European Environment Agency estimates that "potentially polluting activities" have occurred at nearly three million EU sites. But nanoparticles could remediate water, soil and air polluted by compounds such as heavy metals and aromatic hydrocarbons. With high reactivity and a larger surface area than the same mass of material in a larger form, nanoparticles are prime candidates for capturing and destroying pollutants.

At the University of Bath, Dr. Davide Mattia's team are developing nanotechnologies for this purpose. They are also using iron nanoparticle-carbon nanotube catalysts to convert carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals: "This technology can offer a huge financial incentive to large emitters, such as power stations, to install carbon dioxide capture equipment rather than releasing it into the atmosphere," explains Mattia.

Alongside this research is the nanoparticle "factory-on-a-chip" project: "In nanotechnology," explains Mattia, "shape and size determine function, from catalytic activity to magnetic behaviour. It's therefore vital to develop manufacturing techniques that produce large quantities of nanomaterials with repeatable and controlled properties."

For the full article use thelink below... ...

The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/what-is-nano/nano-a-cleaner-option