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Safe Nano, Green Nano

PhysOrg yesterday had two nanotechnology-related reports of particular interest to WorldChangers.

The first, Rice finds 'on-off switch' for buckyball toxicity, is a follow-up to a story we talked about in February: the possible danger of inhaled nanoparticles. In short, earlier this year nanotech researchers were surprised to find that buckyballs (an incredibly useful form of carbon) seemed to show high toxicity under certain conditions. But now, researchers at Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology have figured out that buckyball toxicity is dependent on the shape of the molecule -- and there are simple steps that can be taken to render the carbon nanoparticles one-ten-millionth as toxic. While this was a study of individual cell toxicity, not whole-body danger, it is a promising sign.

The second, Nanotechnology to Create Green Hydrogen, is more-or-less a press release from the British firm, Hydrogen Solar. Nonetheless, what it discusses sounds pretty intriguing: a significant improvement in the ability of solar-powered systems to "crack" hydrogen from water. The innovation is the use of a "nano-crystalline coating" of metal oxides which apparently make the splitting of H2O into hydrogen and oxygen twice as efficient as previous systems. A bit of Googling shows that development was announced in August; what's new is that they're about to run major tests in Las Vegas. (While this reminded me of a University of Massachusetts development we talked about last December, some of the elements don't quite match -- the efficiency numbers differ, and the UMass folks suggested that it might take 20 years for their process to be commercialized, not 10 months.)

Comments (1)


This is not directly related to this article, so if it is in violation of any rule, please feel free to remove this comment at your discretion.

I just wanted to say that I found your site today, and I am thrilled by your vision and outlook on life. I wish there would be a similar organisation/web site for the German speaking part of the world, because most of my friends do not speak sufficient English to be able to understand WorldChanging. If there is some similar German, could you please point me to it?



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