July 29, 2003

Nano Business

Just found this blog via NanoDot. Josh Wolfe provides good insider information on the evolving nanotechnology market. He also provides a free newsletter (for general business news) and a subscription-based newsletter (for hot nanotechnology stock tips).

Two pieces that especially caught my attention:

  • A pithy and very skeptical take on the idea of building a tower that reaches into space via carbon nanotubes.
  • An article that ran in Forbes on how nanotechnology can be used to address the world's energy problems.

Solving energy problems is, of course, one of the proposed "moonshot" goals for nanotechnology. In addition to a proposal from Richard Smalley having to do with using nanotube-based "quantum wires," (which apparently wouldn't create or save any energy, just help us move the energy we've got around better), and a quick dismissal of hydrogen with a promise to say more about it later, the article describes efforts to use nanotechnology to improve current practices related to acquiring energy, to create synthetic fueld, and to faciliate solar energy.

Speaking of hydrogen (not that anyone exactly was), here is a somewhat older piece by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the Global Business Network. Schwartz and Randall propose that we make the cut-over to hydrogen our moonshot. Their emphasis is on the economic and environmental impact of switching to hydrogen. The role of nanotechnology is a secondary concern at best.

Their plan is very well thought out. (Schwartz is pretty much the maestro where drawing up scenarios is concerned.) The plan outlines five steps:

  1. Solve the hydrogen fuel-tank problem.
  2. Encourage mass production of fuel cell vehicles.
  3. Convert the nation's fueling infrastructure to hydrogen.
  4. Ramp up hydrogen production.
  5. Mount a public campaign to sell the hydrogen economy.

I think it would be interesting if the nanotechnology community were to get behind this plan. Nanotechnology could play a key role in the first four steps and could benefit greatly from the the fifth. It's hard to imagine a better proof-of-concept for the field than this would be.

Posted by Phil at July 29, 2003 03:56 PM | TrackBack
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