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Europe rallies behind nanotechnology to wean world from fossil fuels
Date:10/9/2008

Nanotechnologies can be used to develop sustainable energy systems while reducing the harmful effects of fossil fuels as they are gradually phased out over the next century. This optimistic scenario is coming closer to reality as new technologies such as biomimetics and Dye Sensitized solar Cells (DSCs) emerge with great promise for capturing or storing solar energy, and nanocatalysis develops efficient catalysts for energy-saving industrial processes. Europe is ready to accelerate development of these technologies, as delegates heard at a recent conference, Nanotechnology for Sustainable Energy, organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) in partnership with Fonds zur Frderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung in sterreich (FWF) and the Leopold-Franzens-Universitt Innsbruck (LFUI).

The conference focused on solar rather than other sustainable energy sources such as wind, because that is where nanotechnology is most applicable and also because solar energy conversion holds the greatest promise as a long-term replacement of fossil fuels. Solar energy can be harvested directly to generate electricity or to yield fuels such as hydrogen for use in engines. Such fuels can also in turn be used indirectly to generate electricity in conventional power stations.

"The potential of solar power is much, much larger in absolute numbers than that of wind," said Professor Bengt Kasemo from Chalmers University of Technology and the chair of the ESF conference. However, like wind, the potential of solar power generation varies greatly across time and geography, being confined to the daytime and less suitable for regions in higher latitudes, such as Scandinavia and Siberia. For this reason there is growing interest in the idea of a global electricity grid according to Kasemo.

"If solar energy is harvested where it is most abundant, and distributed on a global net (easy to say and a hard but not impossible task to do) it will be enough to re
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Contact: Professor Bengt Kasemo
kasemo@fy.chalmers.se
46-317-723-370
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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