What is Nanotechnology?
For energy, nanotechnology means the future of harvesting and transmitting energy from renewable sources. Nanotechnology in energy will solve the future problems of water, food, health, environment, poverty, war and terrorism, and the oncoming population boom.
Nanotechnology has the capability to allow humanity to store energy and distribute it more efficiently which leads to a cleaner environment with less pollution. In particular, solar energy will be greatly enhanced with the development of nanotech materials.
Two Potential Applications of nanotechnology in energy
If you could create Nano-Plants that go through only the first phase if photosynthesis, the light phase, one could theoretically harness electricity from man-made leaves. Through the first phase, where light is absorbed, an electron is lost from a water molecule, and this electron is used to make sugar, the main energy source for plants. This is the beginning of the electron transport chain. If we can interrupt the electron transport chain, preventing the creation of sugars, those electrons can be used for electricity instead. The purpose of nanotechnology is so that the “plant” doesn’t need to go through the whole process of photosynthesis to “live”, but uses the solar energy to keep the process of electricity generation going. 5 square meters can hold a quintillion nano-plants. Imagine replacing a traditional coal fired power plant with an equivalently sized “Nano-Plant”. By altering the above nanotechnology to only move electrons down a path, you create high efficiency power lines.
Process proven, but not commercially implemented yet. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/11/harvesting-electricity-from-plants-plant-based-energy-generation/
Desalination is one of the most demanding processes in terms of energy and the process could be improved by using a nanoporous material with a single layer of graphene molecules to filter out salt water and contaminants. This could reduce the cost of running desalination plants by more than 90% but currently the material is not on the market and ready for mass production but the theory for the material is there and they have produced small samples.
Proof of concept, but not commercially implemented yet.
The Political implications of New solar power nanotechnology material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat.
The implementation of this technology would be the culmination of a major overhaul of our current energy policy. The SunShot program was designed to make solar energy cost competitive by 2020. This particular development could be the game changer in making that a realistic possibility and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
This could also lead to a destabilization of the Republican Party for decades to come because the energy companies have been investing in the “Reganesque conservatives”, rather than the smaller, Libertarian faction of Republicans. With the advent of the Tea Party movement, another faction was formed based on radical, reactionary worldviews. Though the movement started small, it has quickly grown to be a major part of the Republican Party. This triple division of a once unified party has already led to some destabilization. If the Reganesque conservatives were to no longer have quite so much funding from oil companies, they would be unable to hold on to their tenuous majority. Another faction could take over, marginalizing the smaller and more moderate factions, causing them to flee to the Democratic Party. And if the chaotic Libertarian faction or reactionary Tea Party faction were to take over, moderates would be less inclined to vote for the GOP across the board.