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. Reasonable adoption of six nano-enabled products, detailed in this week’s graphic, offershttp://www.luxresearchinc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/gotw1_23_11.jpg the potential to reduce total energy consumption for the U.S., Germany, and Japan by as much as 12% in 2020. The U.S. alone could potentially eliminate 1,027 trillion BTU from its final energy consumption (FEC).
Quantum-dot-enhanced lighting will have the greatest impact as the U.S. phases out incandescent light bulbs under government mandate. Highly efficient at downconverting light from blue LED sources, quantum dots (QDs) will ease the transition towards LEDs as an efficient source of high-quality warmly colored light. The U.S. commercial, industrial, and residential sectors spend approximately 23%, 1.3%, and 7.0% of their energy on lighting, and assuming 25% adoption in 2020, QD-enhanced bulbs will reduce country-wide FEC by 394 trillion BTU, translating into a reduction of $12.7 billion in annual spending for electricity, assuming $0.11/kWh retail price.
Nanocomposite body parts and frames for automobiles come in a close second. Further improving the high strength-to-weight ratios and economics of composite materials, they allow automakers to cut significant amounts of weight without sacrificing structural integrity – lowering fuel consumption by up to 10.7%. Automotive transportation in the U.S. constituted 33.6% total FEC in 2009 (and could grow slightly to 34.6% in 2020). So 13.5% adoption of automotive nanocomposites through 2020 could cut 317 trillion BTU, or 0.5%, from total FEC.
Tribological coatings in automotive engines carry the third largest impact. By reducing friction in the drivetrain by 10% to 30%, they translate into a 1.8% to 5.3% reduction in fuel consumption. These coatings will eliminate 145 trillion BTU from FEC at 12.5% adoption, and will drop fuel consumption by about 1.3 billion gallons of gasoline in 2020.
Nanofiber air filters, aerogel insulation, thermochromic windows, and QDs for LCDs combine to represent the remaining 0.27% reduction in 2020 FEC. LCDs constitute a very small fraction of the overall residential and commercial energy footprint, so it’s logical that the energy savings there are minor on the national scale – only about 10 trillion BTU in 2020. Nanofiber air filters and aerogel building insulation reduce 2020 FEC by about 65 trillion BTU apiece, and thermochromic windows cut off almost 11 trillion BTU.
Posted by David Hwang in Advanced Materials