National Academies Releases Report on Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels

On October 24, 2012, the National Academies released a report entitled Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels, which was produced at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). According to the report, biofuels made from algae could provide a domestic source of renewable fuel, but with current technologies, increasing production of algal biofuels to meet five percent of U.S. transportation fuel needs could “create unsustainable demands for energy, water, and nutrient resources.” While algal biofuels have the potential to improve the sustainability of the transportation sector, their potential is not yet realized and additional innovations requiring research and development are necessary to achieve the full potential. The report recommends that the environmental, economic, and social effects of algal biofuel production and use be compared with those of petroleum-based fuels and other fuel alternatives to determine whether algal biofuels contribute to improving sustainability. The report states that such comparison will be possible “only if thorough assessments of each step in the various pathways for algal biofuel production are conducted.”

House Bill Would Reauthorize NNI

On May 28, 2010, the House passed, by a vote of 262-150, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5116), which would authorize funding for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), as well as the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science activities. The bill includes language from H.R. 554, the NNI Amendments Act of 2009, which the House passed in February 2009. H.R. 5116 would require NNI to work toward developing “standards related to methods and procedures for detecting, measuring, monitoring, sampling, and testing engineered nanoscale materials for environmental, health, and safety impacts.” The bill would fund research on “green nanotechnology” by creating research centers that would focus on methods and approaches to develop environmentally benign nanoscale products and nanoscale manufacturing processes; foster the transfer of the results of such research to industry; and provide for the education of scientists and engineers through interdisciplinary studies in the principles and techniques for the design and development of environmentally benign nanoscale products and processes. The bill would create a position, within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), for a Coordinator for Societal Dimensions of Nanotechnology. The Coordinator would ensure that a research plan for the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) research activities is developed, updated, and implemented.

EPA Announces Interagency Nanotechnology Implications Grantees Workshop

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the Interagency Nanotechnology Implications Grantees Workshop, which will feature presentations on recent research by EPA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH/NIEHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and Department of Energy (DOE) grant researchers.  According to EPA, the November 9-10, 2009, meeting “will encourage collaboration and cooperation among nanotechnology grantees sponsored by EPA, NSF, NIEHS, NIOSH and DOE and between other federal grantees and federal nanotechnology researchers.” The meeting is open to members of academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, industry, and the general public. Two agendas are available: (1) other nanomaterials; and (2) metals and carbon-based nanomaterials.

NANO Act Introduced in Congress

On February 3, 2009, Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced the Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act (H.R. 820), which is intended to ensure the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology. Honda based the legislation on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology, a panel of California nanotechnology experts with backgrounds in established industry, startup companies, consulting groups, non-profits, academia, government, medical research, and venture capital convened by Honda and then-California State Controller Steve Westly during 2005.

The NANO Act would:

  • Establish grant programs to address specific challenges in the areas of energy, environment, homeland security, and health;
  • Create a public-private investment partnership to address the gap in commercial availability of nanotechnology;
  • Establish a tax credit for investment in nanotechnology firms;
  • Develop a strategy to increase interaction on nanotechnology interests between Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories and the informal science education community; and
  • Direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a program to encourage manufacturing companies to enter into partnerships with occupational training centers for the development of training to support nanotechnology manufacturing.

Honda introduced similar legislation in the previous Congress. The bill has been referred to the following House Committees: Science and Technology; Energy and Commerce; Ways and Means; and Homeland Security.

 

EPA Will Host Nanotechnology Conference in Chicago

On September 18, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that EPA Region 5 will host the 2008 International Environmental Nanotechnology Conference: Applications and Implications, October 7-9, 2008, in Chicago, Illinois. According to EPA, researchers from Asia, Australia, and Europe will join U.S. scientists and government officials to discuss nanotechnology applications for environmental cleanup, pollution control, and the implications of releasing engineered nanoparticles into the environment. Partner agencies represented at the conference include the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Lakes Centers for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health.

Nanotechnology Bill Introduced in House

On July 31, 2007, Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced the Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act (HR 3235), which is intended to promote the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology in the U.S. Honda based the legislation on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology, a panel of California nanotechnology experts with backgrounds in established industry, startup companies, consulting groups, non-profits, academia, government, medical research, and venture capital convened by Honda and then-California State Controller Steve Westly during 2005.

The NANO Act would:

  • Establish grant programs to address specific challenges in the areas of energy, environment, homeland security, and health;
  • Create a public-private investment partnership to address the gap in commercial availability of nanotechnology;
  • Establish a tax credit for investment in nanotechnology firms;
  • Develop a strategy to increase interaction on nanotechnology interests between Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories and the informal science education community; and
  • Direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a program to encourage manufacturing companies to enter into partnerships with occupational training centers for the development of training to support nanotechnology manufacturing.
The bill was referred to the House Committees on Science and Technology, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Homeland Security for each Committee’s consideration of the provisions falling within its jurisdiction.