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February 26th, 2007
Nanotechnology and the Future of Renewable Energy
Nanotechnology operates at such a fundamental level that there is very little of a technological nature that it will not impact. Thus its effects on energy generation, transmission, storage and consumption are numerous and diverse. Some will be incremental and some quite possibly revolutionary.
Rather than trying to sketch the whole landscape, a few examples will hopefully illustrate the variety.
At the mundane end of the scale you have anti-fouling paints for wave or tidal power, or materials with a higher tolerance for radiation in nuclear reactors. I did say mundane.
In wind power, the potentially enormous improvements in strength-to-weight ratio of composite materials used in blades could pay back surprisingly well because the relationship of blade length to efficiency is not linear but follows a power law -- though there is much argument about how this pans out in the real world.
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