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I attended this conference back in March. The press release for the proposal came out several weeks ago. But I’ve sat on the PR because I’ve wanted to give the matter more thought.
A comment voiced by Americans at the workshop was that the US desalination research community is aware that current research strongly suggests that +-5 years from now the cost of desalination will drop dramtically. However, the US desalination industry –as of March– is not generally aware of what’s happening in basic research.
For this reason, I think it would be better if US funding for this project came from private rather than public sources. (There is a caveat which I mention below.) One candidate would be a US company that is positioned to impliment desalination research discoveries on a large scale. For the US that company would be GE.
Perhaps the man to approach to fund the basic research here is Philip M. Rolchigo.
Consider this bio from the WaterReUse Association Web Site
Philip M. Rolchigo, Ph. D. of GE Water was elected to the WateReuse Foundation Board of Directors during a May 16 Board meeting in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Rolchigo has worked in research and development since 1988 and now serves as Water Technologies’ Business Program Manager in GE’s Global Research Center. Wade Miller, Executive Director of the Foundation, noted that “Dr. Rolchigo will bring a couple of important dimensions to the Foundation Board. First, GE’s Global Research Center is out on the ‘cutting edge’ of advanced treatment technologies; this knowledge will help the Board to fund projects that are truly ‘value added propositions.’ Second, Dr. Rolchigo has been involved with the Joint Water Reuse & Desalination Task Force (JWR&DTF) activities over the past two years and therefore understands what the Foundation and the Task Force are trying to achieve in desalination. We look forward to having Phil serve on the Board.”
There is a caveat that I would make to this: That is, if water desalination were moved from the business level to the political level. For example, there would, imho, be a political benefit to a joint statement made by the US President and the Prime Minister of Israel to the effect that the two countries planned to work together collapse the cost of water desalination by a factor of 10 in the next 10 years–and thereby make it economically possible to turn the world’s deserts green — and double the size of the habitable planet.
I think that this would have the same effect as Reagan’s Star Wars Speech. That speech changed the future because it changed the bad guy’s expectations about the future.
Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres has been actively pushing for Israel to get involved with nanotechology as a way to reduce costs for things such as desalination. Senator Domenici of New Mexico has been championing desalination research in the USA. But neither the Kadima Party or the Republican Party leadership currently recognize the profound impact on world affairs that cheap desalinised water would have–and how close that reality is. Someone might want to get leadership up to speed on this.
– 1 –
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Bob Rosenbaum
for Water Purification
Collaborative effort targets most promising areas for water treatment
TEL AVIV, Israel – 10 July 2006 – Water researchers from leading institutions in Israel and the U.S. have targeted four cutting-edge projects for collaborative research between the two countries.
Their selection is one outcome of a bi-national workshop held in Washington DC in mid-March, organized by the U.S. and Israeli national nanotechnology initiatives, and theCenter of Advanced Materials for Purification of Water with Systems (WaterCAMPWS) at the University of Illinois.
Prof. Rafi Semiat, Director of the Grand Water Research Institute at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and a workshop organizer, said that while the group will promote all 12 nanotech-based projects that were outlined at the workshop, special focus is being given to four projects that can provide extraordinary benefits for water purification, and that have the potential to be applied commercially within the next five years.
“Both countries see the target projects not only as very exciting, potential breakthroughs, but also as applied research that can get funded and get commercialized quickly,”
The target projects focus on distinct nanotechnology-based solutions that were outlined at the bi-national workshop: membranes and membrane processes, biofouling and disinfection, contaminants removal, and environmental monitoring and sensors.
The four targeted projects are:
Development of new, porous polymer-based ultra-filtration membranes with special coatings, that exhibit higher flux and higher resistance to contamination as well as robust molecular sieving abilities. The project will create and test selfassembling membranes with very stable transport channels that reduce biofouling and may also be capable of self-cleaning.
Development of coatings with antimicrobial capabilities that can minimize biological attachment and biofilm formation that can be applied to current Researchers in Israel and US Select Top Four Nanotech Projects for Water Purification generation membranes that are used for drinking water, wastewater and desalination.
Study of mixed metal oxide nanostructured materials for the destruction of biological toxins in surface water and groundwater, using photocatalysis and oxidation. The project will provide data for optimizing the use of these materials in various environments.
Development of whole-cell microbial biosensors to detect minute metabolite excretions from newly-forming biofilms. The project will examine the mechanisms of biological attachment to surfaces, identify its biochemical signals, and develop nanoscale sensors that can be applied to membrane surfaces, enabling optimized maintenance for water purification membranes and significant extension of membrane lifetimes.
Rich Sustich, Industrial and Governmental Development Manager for the WaterCAMPWS and a workshop organizer, said that there is special excitement over the proposed biosensor project, which may result in new tools and methods for water systems operation and reduction of long-term maintenance costs.
“Today’s water infrastructure is run on a one-size-fits-all concept.” Sustich noted. “Systems are assembled from standard components, and maintenance relies more on manufacturer’s recommendations than on a direct understanding of what’s really happening during treatment. This works, but it’s very wasteful.”
Adding biosensing devices throughout the water treatment system will provide direct awareness and interaction with the system in real time. The proposed biosensors can eventually lead beyond passive sensing to the development of ‘smart’ membranes that react biologically to changes in the system’s environment, and perhaps even prevent biofilm and toxics formation without the need for manual intervention.
These treatment concepts mimic those already used successfully in medicine: developing biological-based sensors that can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy cells and enable drug delivery only to the unhealthy cells.
Workshop participants agreed that such biosensing mechanisms could be applied within 5 to 10 years, given the needed development resources. All of the March workshop’s target projects use nanotechnology to move water treatment from today’s broad ‘shotgun’ approach to more focused and discrete treatments. “We’re developing water systems that are capable of identifying and addressing contaminants at the molecular level,” Sustich said. “The things that are not toxic and don’t need to be removed won’t be removed. Smart systems that remove only the harmful contaminants will be much more efficient and sustainable.”
Water purification is among the most challenging health, social and technological issues facing the world today. Israel and the U.S., acknowledged leaders in water treatment and water systems management, are seeking to find collaborative ways to use evolving nanotechnology research as platforms for new water treatment solutions, and to help reduce the costs of maintaining water and wastewater infrastructures.
This first joint workshop hosted nearly 50 participants, among them 20 leading water researchers (equally representing Israel and the U.S.) from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sandia National Laboratories, Technion Israel Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Yale University, and other institutions.
Among the attendees at the workshop were Dr. Mike Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology at the NSF, Dr. Celia Merzbacher, Assistant Director for Technology at the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Rafael Harpaz, Minister counselor of Public Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC.
Workshop sponsors are seeking approximately $600,000 to support costs of binational collaboration on all 12 projects, with funding to be matched equally between Israeli and U.S. sources. Additional workshops are also planned.
Technical information and funding details on all projects are available upon request.
– ### –
About the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)
The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is a federal U.S. R&D program established to coordinate the multi-agency efforts in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. The NNI is managed within the framework of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a Presidential Cabinet-level council by which the President coordinates science, space, and technology policies across the Federal Government. Twenty-three federal U.S. agencies participate in the Initiative, including the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). More information can be found at: http://www.nano.gov/
About the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI)
The INNI is a shared initiative of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and Israel’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and responsible for setting national goals and priorities for advancing nanotechnology in Israel. A key task of the INNI is to promote fruitful collaboration between Israeli and global nanotechnology stakeholders, particularly for projects that lead to continuing success in academia and industry. Promoting Israeli nanotechnologies for used in water purification is a primary goal for the INNI. More information can be found at: http://www.nanoisrael.org/
About the UIUC WaterCAMPWS
The Center for Advanced Materials for the Purification of Water with Systems (WaterCAMPWS) is a science and technology center of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The WaterCAMPWS brings together the knowledge and experience of water researchers from ten leading universities and institutions from around the U.S. Its primary mission is to develop revolutionary new materials and systems for safely and
economically purifying water for human use, while simultaneously developing the diverse human resources needed to exploit the research advances and the knowledge base created. More information can be found at:
The article below doesn’t mention the applicability of Nano Lubes to current generation semi permiable membranes–but the thought does cross one’s mind that since Nano Lubes reduce friction on the nanoscale up to 100 times with tiny electrical vibrations …. to keep parts from wearing out — perhaps Nano Lubes might use less electricity than current generation pumps used to force salt water through semi permiable membranes; ie rather than force the water through the membrane– you give the membrane a jolt of electricity and the water slips through at room temperature and pressure. Curiously, electricity has been used recently to create super catlysts by a process called electro-flocculation for desalination purposes in Israel. Scientists there say the process reduces treatment costs by up to 33%. Electro-flocculation involves a very different process that clumps together particulates — but it does go to show a bit more about what electricity can do–and what the savings might be. See what electricity might do for current generation semi permiable membranes below. (Click here to see the article at MIT Technolgy Review)
Nano Lube Could Make Possible Ultra-Dense Memory
A new way to reduce friction at the nanoscale could enable the commercialization of nano mechanical devices, including ones for data storage.
By Kevin Bullis
Researchers have helped to smooth the way for memory chips that are 10 to 100 times denser than today’s devices, by developing a way to cut down on friction at the nanoscale. The method could have far-reaching implications for both micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS), which are used for storage and other applications in communications and computing.
Liquid lubricants do not work at the nano scale; as a result, tiny mechanical devices can wear out too fast to be practical. Now physicists at the University of Basel in Switzerland have developed a dry “lubrication” method that uses tiny vibrations to keep parts from wearing out.
The method, described in the current issue of Science, could be particularly useful for a new class of memory devices, pioneered by IBM with its Millipede technology, which uses thousands of atomic force microscope tips to physically “write” bits to a surface by making divots in a polymer substrate and later reading them. The “nano lube” could also find uses with tiny rotating mirrors that might serve as optical routers in communications and mechanical switches, replacing transistors in computer processors, so cutting power consumption.
Devices based on NEMS and MEMS are some of the most promising new nanotechnologies. Yet the commercialization of applications such as Millipede — which could store well over 25 DVDs in an area the size of a postage stamp — has been held up in part by wear caused by friction. Indeed, friction is a particular problem in micro- or nanodevices, where contacts between surfaces are tiny points that can do a lot of damage.
“Coming down to nanoscale devices, this contact area gets smaller and smaller, so you have less surface where you can dissipate heat,” says Anisoara Socoliuc, a physicist at the University of Basel and co-author of the Science article. “This leads to wear. It’s very easy to break or damage the material at this small scale.”
In their experiments, the Swiss researchers moved an atomic force microscope tip made of silicon across a test material of sodium chloride or potassium bromide. Ordinarily, the ultra-sharp tip would travel in a “stick-and-slip” fashion, as friction repeatedly builds up until the tip suddenly breaks free. (The same physical mechanism accounts for squeaky door hinges.) The researchers solved the sticky-tip problem by oscillating the tips using changing voltages. The vibrations, which are so small that the tip stays in continuous contact with the material, keep energy from building up and being suddenly released. As a result, friction decreases 100-fold.
Several other nano “lubrication” methods have been tried, including slowing down the movement of mechanical parts to a crawl; but these have been impractical — many devices, for example, need to move at relatively high speeds. In an earlier study, the authors of the current work also showed that carefully decreasing the amount of pressure between two surfaces could decrease friction; but this proved difficult to control.
The new method, which promises to be much more practical, solves a key part of the wear problems that reduces the reliability of Millipede-type memory chips, says Georgia Tech mechanical engineering professor William King, who worked on IBM’s Millipede system and is now scientific advisor for a startup company, Nanochip, in Freemont, CA, that’s developing a similar memory based on MEMS and arrays of atomic force microscopy tips. King notes, however, that wear from other mechanisms, such as chemical changes in the material over time, is still a problem.
Robert Garpick, professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, notes that further research needs to be done before this method can be used in actual MEMS and NEMS, but that it’s an important study. “What devices could this enable? It’s up to the imagination, ultimately. A lot remains to be done, but it really is a remarkable result,” he says.
Copyright Technology Review 2006.
Scientists at Argonne National Labs are modeling for electrical properties by adding defects in carbon nanotubes. The researchers are interested in improving the materials for thermoelectric power generation. However, this methodology looks like it could be readily adopted for desal research by adjusting the charge on a carbon nanotube to screen for Na or Cl–as was done for Hydrogen production purposes by collaborating researchers from UT and the Research Triangle Institute in the Research Triangle NC. (The UT/NC researchers were not working with carbon nanotubes.)
The Argonne modeling methodology for impurities below looks so thorough that–in lieu of a formalized national labs interlibrary borrowing system for models–off–the shelf… it might be an appropriate and helpful time saver for researchers at San Dia to arrange to borrow/barter/rent/buy the model below.
Published July 05, 2006
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|Carbon nanotube building blocks open up possibilities for advanced electronics|
Nanotube designs include (from top) “bumpy,” “zipper” and “multiple zipper.”
A new method to systematically modify the structure of single-walled carbon nanotubes could expand their electronic properties and open the path to nano-electronics.
|Carbon cylinders a few billionths of a meter in diameter and a few microns long, these nanotubes are one of the strongest structures known and have unique electrical and thermal properties.
This promising method to add defects to carbon nanotube walls was developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, who are interested in improving the materials for thermoelectric power generation, the use of heat differences to generate electricity. Thermoelectric conversion is the principle behind thermocouples, thermal diodes and solid-state refrigerators.
“If you change the electronic structure,” said Argonne chemist Larry Curtiss, “by adding defects in an ordered way, theoretically you can make more efficient thermoelectric materials. So we could produce electricity more efficiently from solar, nuclear or any thermal power generation.” Curtiss is group leader of the Molecular Materials Group in Argonne’s Materials Science Division.
One dimer at a time
Creating defects by adding molecules to nanotubes is challenging because of their extremely small size. And researchers are seeking a controlled, reproducible method. So the Argonne team, which includes Curtiss, Michael Sternberg, Peter Zapol, Dieter Gruen, Gary Kedziora, Paul Redfern and David Horner, used computer simulation tools to learn how to add a single carbon dimer – a molecule of two bonded carbons – to a single-walled carbon nanotube.
The single-walled nanotubes – believed to be the best candidates for next step of miniaturizing modern electronics – resemble a long tube of chain-link fence made of hexagons. The Argonne team simulated a variety of approaches to attach the carbon dimer to the nanotube. They found the easiest and strongest method is by horizontally inserting a carbon dimer into two hexagonal bonds, creating two adjacent pentagons and heptagons (seven-sided structures) in the chain link.
One dimer, two dimer…
After they understood how to add one dimer, the researchers began to add dimers in patterns.
“The interesting thing was going into the multiple patterns,” Curtiss said. “We started building up patterns using the dimers like building blocks and adding them to the tubes.”
The researchers found a number of interesting modifications:
— The “bumpy” tube has carbon dimers added symmetrically around the circumference of the tube to create a stable bulge.
“The structures we simulated,” said physicist Zapol, “have new and unexpected features. They modify the electronic properties in the nanotubes, and that will be useful in future electronic applications.”
Guided by the simulations, Argonne materials scientists, led by Gruen, with expertise in carbon nanomaterials are creating materials for testing.
“But we think that some of these structures exist already,” said Curtiss. Zapol’s literature review revealed that some researchers have found these structures, but they did not know what they were.
The zipper structure particularly appeals to Argonne researchers because the atomic spacings in the openings are just the right size to bond nanotubes to Ultrananocrystalline™ diamond and combine the properties of both.
Ultrananocrystalline diamond is a novel form of nanocarbon developed by Argonne that has many of the properties of diamond – the hardest known material on earth – and can be deposited on a variety of surfaces. Unlike diamond, its properties can be optimized depending on the application.
Researchers plan to use the carbon nanotubes as a scaffolding to attach other molecules and study their functions. They will also connect the tubes into arrays and study the effects.
Source: by Evelyn Brown, Argonne National Laboratory
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