Wall Street has not been active in nanotechnology financing. The planned $100 million Initial Public Offering (IPO) of NanoDynamics, Inc (ND) may change the funding land-scape for nanotechnology companies. worldwide investment of over $10 billion (2006).
“ALL THE miracles of life that nature has created are based on Nanotechnology. It is up to mankind to perfect these miracles in the upcoming decades and centuries.”
Nanotechnology is one of the most active areas of research and development today with an investment of over $10 billion (2006) going into it worldwide. The United States, with its substantial government-funding involving the National Science Foundation (NSF), its Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defence (DOD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leads the world
in nanotechnology research and development. In January 2007, the European Union launched its largest-ever funding programme for research and technological development called the Seventh Framework Program (FP7). The programme has allocated about $ 4.5 billion for nanotechnology research and development. Other countries, including Russia, India, Japan and China have earmarked several billion USD for future nanotechnology investment programmes.
During the last five years, Wall Street has not been active in nanotechnology financing. It has allowed the venture capital companies, without competition, to cherry-pick the elite nanotechnology investment opportunities while leaving many promising nanotechnology ventures to starve financially. Today, with 400+ nanotechnology products in the domestic marketplace, the industry appears credible and the Street’s focus may be changing. The planned $100 million Initial Public Offering (IPO) by NanoDynamics, Inc (ND) may change the funding landscape for nanotechnology companies. It’s a very important change. The reasons behind the ND IPO’s expected success will become clear once you dig through the S-1 Prospectus, understand which specific green and nanotechnology markets ND’s new products aim to penetrate and why ND will be profitable in both those markets. "Green Energy and Nanotechnology" is a winning corporate strategy for the next decade. After a successful ND offering, a financing rush will be on and Wall Street should once again become a major player in nanotechnology funding, especially for young and cash-starved nanotechnology companies.
Environmental applications of nanotechnology
Environmental benefits from nanotechnology are derived from a wide range of possible applications, including nanotechnology-enabled, environmentally friendly manufacturing processes that reduce waste products - ultimately leading to atomically precise molecular manufacturing with zero waste; the use of nano- materials as catalysts to minimize or eliminate the use of toxic materials for greater efficiency in the current manufacturing processes; the use of nano-materials and nano-devices to reduce pollution (e.g. water and air filters); and the use of nano-materials for more efficient alternative energy production (e.g. solar and fuel cells).
Fuel additives for increased fuel efficiency
Nano-particle additives have been shown to increase the fuel efficiency of diesel engines by approximately 5% which could result in a maximum saving of 22-23 millions of tons per annum of CO2 in Europe alone. This could be implemented immediately across the diesel-powered fleet. However, since little is known about the health impact of free nano-particles in diesel exhaust gases, a comprehensive toxicological testing and subsidized independent performance tests are required to validate the absence of environmental harm.
Nanotechnology may deliver significant benefits in vastly decreasing the production costs of solar cells. Conservatively, if a distributed solar generation grid met 1% of the world’s electricity demand, approximately 40 million tons per annum of CO2 could be saved. The major barrier to this technology
is the incorporation of nanotechnology into solar cells, not the nanotechnology itself. There is currently a lack of skills to transfer the science base into workable prototypes. What is needed is to develop programmes and facilities for taking fundamental research through to early stage prototypes where established mechanisms can be employed to commercialize new technologies. Centres of excellence in Photovoltaics have to be created to allow cross-fertilization of ideas from different scientific disciplines.
Hydrogen Production through Nanotechnology
Hydrogen-powered vehicles could eliminate all toxic emissions, which would improve public health. If hydrogen were generated via renewable means or using carbon capture and storage, all CO2 emissions from transport could be eliminated (over 1 billion tons per annum). The hydrogen economy, however, is estimated to be 20 years away from potential universal deployment. Nanotechnology is central to developing efficient hydrogen storage, which is likely to be the largest barrier to worldwide use. Nanotechnology is also a lead candidate for improving the efficiency of fuel cells and for developing a method for renewable hydrogen production. To initiate a process in the right direction, public procurement to fund hydrogen-powered urban public transport is recommended which in turn will create a market and infrastructure for hydrogen-powered transport. Funding large international projects and continuing R&D support will also be crucial.
Ethanol Production through Nanotechnology
The recent interest in ethanol has been sparked by its use as a renewable fuel alternative to gasoline. Even though we have been drinking ethanol, an alcohol, for thousands of years (fermented beverages such as beer and wine contain up to 5-15% ethanol by volume), the largest single use of ethanol is as a motor fuel and fuel additive. Ethanol is produced by fermentation of feedstocks when certain species of yeast metabolize sugar. The primary feedstock for ethanol production in the U.S. is corn. In Brazil, the world’s leading ethanol producer, it’s mostly derived from sugar cane. While there is a heated controversy over the economic and ecological benefits of using biomass for producing ethanol fuel, it seems that the carbon nano-tubes (CNT) are increasingly recognized as promising materials for catalysis, either as catalysts themselves or as catalyst additives or as catalyst supports. Research has shown that CNTs loaded with rhodium (Rh) nano-particles are able to convert a gas mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into ethanol. This appears to be the first example where the activity and selectivity of a metal-catalyzed gas-phase reaction benefits significantly from proceeding inside a nano-sized CNT reaction vessel.
Diesel-burning engines are a major contributor to environmental pollution, since they emit a mixture of gases and fine particles that contain over 40 mostly toxic chemicals, including Benzene, Butadiene, Dioxin and mercury compounds. Diesel exhaust is listed as a known or probable human carcinogen by over 40 countries in the world. A Japanese government-supported research has shown that diesel soot can be recycled as a carbon source for the synthesis of single-walled carbon nano-tubes (SWCNTs). The diesel soot was predominantly collected by Soxhlet extraction of the particulate matter with ethanol. The collected diesel soot recycled by this method was then subjected to laser vaporization to synthesize SWCNTs, which can be used to produce new diesel fuel.
Batteries and Super-Capacitors
Recent advances in battery technology have made the range and power of electric vehicles more practical. Issues still surround the charge time. Nanotechnology may provide a remedy to this problem by allowing electric vehicles to be recharged much more quickly. Without nanotechnology, electric vehicles are likely to remain a niche market because of the issue of charge time. Significant infrastructural investment will be required to develop recharging stations throughout most industrialized nations. Fiscal incentives to purchasers such as the congestion charge scheme, fast track schemes for commercialization and cultivation of links with automotive multinationals will also be important.
Cavity and loft insulation are cheap and effective; however, there are no easy methods for insulating solid walled buildings, which currently account for approximately a third of most buildings in industrialized countries with a cold winter climate. Nanotechnology provides several efficient approaches: Ultra thin nano-films on windows can reduce heat loss much more efficiently than anything currently on the market. In addition, improvement of Aerogels, which themselves are nanostructures, can minimize heat-loss of concrete walls.