The increasing consumption and diminishing reserves of fossil fuels will create significant issues for civilization, but energy efficiency can help mitigate the challenge – and advances in nanotechnology have a role to play.
Adoption of six nano-enabled products, in particular, has the potential to reduce total energy consumption for the U.S., Germany, and Japan by as much as 12%, according to Lux Research.
Titled “Nanotech's Answer Key to the Energy Problem,” the report quantifies the potential impact that six nanotechnology innovations could have on energy consumption in three representative regions, the U.S., Germany, and Japan. The six technologies are low-friction tribological coatings in automotive engines, nanofiber air filters, nano-enabled insulation, lightweight nanocomposite automotive parts, thermochromic windows, and quantum dot (QD) enabled light sources.
“Full adoption of all six nanotechnologies listed could reduce total energy consumption by 12%, which would be comparable to shutting down all the coal plants in the U.S.,” said David Hwang, an analyst for Lux Research and the report’s lead author. “A more realistic adoption scenario could see a 1.6% drop in consumption that, while less impressive, is still substantial compared to the potential impact of energy conservation or renewable energy generation.”
To prepare its report, Lux Research calculated energy usage in residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation applications. It then interviewed nanotechnology developers and would-be end users to determine how much the nano-enabled products could reduce energy consumption in each application, and how widely they might be adopted. Among the report’s key observations:
- The U.S. benefits most from savings on the automotive front. The ubiquitous American automobile drives most energy consumption in the U.S. Hence, low-friction tribological coatings and lightweight nanocomposites offer the biggest opportunities – 1.8% and 3.6%, respectively – for reducing energy consumption. With 3.9% total energy spent on lighting in the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors, QD-enabled LED lighting could cut another 2.5% from the U.S.’s energy consumption in 2020.
- Nano-enabled insulation could insulate Germany from high expenditures on space heating. Germany’s energy consumption is dominated by space heating. In 2009, 28.9% of the country’s total consumption went to heating living and work spaces in the residential and commercial sectors. Consequently, nano-enabled insulation could help lower countrywide consumption by 6.8%, representing almost half of Germany’s total potential savings. Adoption of tribological coatings and nanocomposites in German automobiles could cut another 3.8% from the country’s total consumption by 2020.
- Japan’s lighting delivers its largest reductions. In 2009, 4.6% of Japan’s energy was used for general space illumination. With the large efficiency increases that QD-enabled LEDs deliver, the country could shave off 3.3% of total consumption by 2020.
“Nanotech's Answer Key to the Energy Problem,” is part of the Lux Nanomaterials Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Nanomaterials Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.