Nanotechnologies, Hazards and Resource Efficiency: A Three-Tiered Approach to Assessing the Implications of Nanotechnology and Influencing its Development, by Michael Steinfeldt, Arnim von Gleich, Ulrich Petschow, and Rüdiger Haum

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Nanotechnologies, Hazards and Resource Efficiency: A Three-Tiered Approach to Assessing the Implications of Nanotechnology and Influencing its Development , by Michael Steinfeldt, Arnim Von Gleich, Ulrich Petschow, and Rüdiger Haum . Dordrecht , the Netherlands : Springer , 2007 , 272 pp ., ISBN 9783540738824 , $139.00 .

If nanomaterials do achieve the widespread use that some predict, then interactions of nanomaterials with humans and the environment will become almost inevitable. Life cycle assessment and product design principles, however, recognize that the use phase constitutes only a fraction of a technology's impact from its design through its disposal. Green chemistry, green engineering, life cycle design, and industrial ecology probe other phases of product life cycles for opportunities to minimize the undesirable or unintended impacts of nanotechnology. This book addresses these green engineering and life cycle aspects.

The book evolved from a project titled Effects of the Production and Application of Nanotechnology Products on Sustainability, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research. The project addresses two key questions: (1) How can we evaluate the anticipated consequences of a technology that is still evolving, and (2) how can we effectively influence sustainable development in nanotechnology design? A three-step approach has been devised to assess prospective technologies and the design of nanotechnology: (1) assessment of nanotechnology and its implications via a detailed characterization of the technology, (2) evaluation of sustainability via life cycle assessment, and (3) development of a guiding vision and principles that will influence the development of nanotechnology.

The first chapter provides a detailed overview of the book, using several relevant examples of each of the three approaches to the design of nanotechnology. The second chapter presents the basis and rationale for the methodology of the three-step approach for the assessment of prospective technologies and the design of nanotechnology. The following three chapters present extensive results and numerous examples that were obtained in the application of the three-step approach for nanotechnology assessment. Chapter 6 concludes with a critical summary of the key concepts described in the book, the main conclusions, and suggestions for future research.

The book is replete with relevant industrial examples that illustrate how nanotechnology can affect the efficiency of manufacturing processes. For example, styrene synthesis, which uses carbon nanotubes as a catalyst to replace conventional iron-oxide catalysts, converted the reaction from endothermic to exothermic, reduced the temperature of reaction by 200 °C, and improved the selectivity of the reaction. This process can yield a net energy savings of nearly 50% and reduces heavy metal emissions by 75%. In addition to the numerous examples of nanotechnology's significant impact on industrial processes, the book also serves as a resource for useful technical data through its 53 figures and 58 tables.

Overall, this book is timely and represents a useful addition to the expanding literature on nanotechnology in general and green engineering and life cycle assessment of nanotechnology in particular. It will be a valuable resource to scientists, engineers, technologists, and industrial managers as well as graduate students. Note, however, that as the book was originally written in German, some parts of the translation proved difficult or awkward to read.

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