The kickoff workshop for Nano4EARTH was held January 24-25, 2023. Nano4EARTH will leverage recent investments in understanding and controlling matter at the nanoscale to develop technologies, industries, and training opportunities that address climate change. On January 26, 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a press release summarizing the workshop. According to OSTP, more than 400 people across sectors, with diverse expertise and perspectives, participated in the workshop. OSTP states that discussions focused on identifying nanotechnologies that will have an impact on climate change in four years or less, in addition to sharing resources to address barriers to entrepreneurship and technology adoption. Workshop participants identified goals and metrics to maintain momentum throughout the challenge. New connections and networks spanning federal agencies, non-federal organizations, and industry were created and several examples of collaborations and events centered on nanotechnology and climate change developed organically between participants.
OSTP states that common themes included:
- Battery technology has seen increased adoption in personal vehicles and long-term energy storage solutions, but further advances in Li-ion, as well as new chemistries and architectures, show tremendous and broad potential. It is critical that research directions are well matched with particular use cases.
- Catalysts leveraging new understandings of nanoscale materials and phenomena could optimize many high-greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting industrial processes, minimize the need for rare-earth metals, and serve as a precursor for alternative energy sources such as green hydrogen and electrofuels.
- Coatings and other material innovations are likely to increase the overall efficiency of nearly any industrial process and lead to more resilient structures and devices, especially in changing and harsh environments. Examples include reflective coatings, corrosion protection, heat management in computing, lubricants and other additives, and membranes for separations. Drop-in solutions would have a more near-term impact.
- Capture of GHGs through advanced materials and sorbents (e.g., metal organic frameworks) and nature mimicking processes (e.g., artificial photosynthesis), especially deployed at the point of production, could be impactful but deploying at scale has significant challenges. In the near term, renewable energy production and efficient transmission is worthy of increased attention.
The recordings of the Nano4EARTH kickoff workshop are available online. The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) intends to convene a series of roundtable discussions that focus on some of the highest potential nanotechnologies identified at the workshop.