small plans: nanotechnology for the building industry

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Visit us at Green Technology Forum

Thanks for visiting smallplans, and I invite you to come see us at Green Technology Forum. There you'll find the latest news, commentary and research on nanotechnology and biotechnology for growing green businesses. Whether you're in design, science, business or education you'll find valuable information and insights on these revolutionary technologies at GTF.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mood lighting for walls and ceilings

Imagine changing the color of your walls and ceilings to fit your mood. That's what researchers at the University of Surrey hope to achieve with solid state lighting devices using nano-composite materials.

"This will completely change the way we use lighting," said, project leader Professor Ravi Silva. "Ultra Low Energy High Brightness Light (ULEHB) lighting will produce the same quality light as the best 100 watt light bulb, but using only a fraction of the energy and last many times longer."

These new ultra low energy lighting devices will be fabricated using carbon nanotube-organic composites which will significantly reduce energy running costs, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions at power generating stations, says a
report at

ULEHB lighting may offer a cost efficient and clean replacement solution for mercury based fluorescent lamps and many other low efficiency 'heat producing' light sources.

Potential uses such as variable mood lighting over a whole wall or ceiling opens up a range of exciting applications. ULEHB is also expected to have wide uses in signage, displays, street lighting, commercial lighting, public buildings, offices and image projectors. The patented technology can also be used for low cost solar cell production and has the versatility to be tuned to produce eye pleasing coloured light. (photo

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Nanotubes as Minuscule Metalworking Tools

Bombarding a carbon nanotube with electrons causes it to collapse with such incredible force that it can squeeze out even the hardest of materials, much like a tube of toothpaste. Now, research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) suggests that carbon nanotubes can act as minuscule metalworking tools, offering the ability to process materials as in a nanoscale jig or extruder, according to an RPI press release.

Engineers use a variety of tools to manipulate and process metals. For example, handy “jigs” control the motion of tools, and extruders push or draw materials through molds to create long objects of a fixed diameter. The newly reported findings suggest that nanotubes could perform similar functions at the scale of atoms and molecules, the researchers say.

“Researchers will need a wide range of tools to manipulate structures at the nanoscale, and this could be one of them,” says Pulickel Ajayan, the Henry Burlage Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer.

The researchers filled carbon nanotubes with nanowires made from two extremely hard materials: iron and iron carbide. When irradiated with an electron beam, the collapsing nanotubes squeezed the materials through the hollow core along the tube axis, as in an extrusion process (pictured).

These jigs could be perfect nanoscale laboratories to study the effects of deformation in nanostructures by observing them directly in an electron microscope, the researchers suggest. (photo RPI)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Nanotec offers protection for wood, glass, metal, concrete and textiles

Nanotec is an Australian firm producing a range of nanocoatings for protecting wood, metal, concrete, glass and textiles.

Nanoseal Wood is, according to the company website, a water-based nanotechnology product for long lasting water repellent effect on wood.

Nanoseal Wood enables wood to resist decay and discoloration by wood-decay fungi, which need moisture to live.

Due to the water repellent effect Nanoseal Wood also decreases the swelling and shrinking that lead to cracking and warping.

The nano-hydrophobic treatment is resistant to friction, UV-stable and change temperature steady

Key Benefits:

Weather protection
UV - weather-resistant
Easy to clean- Self cleaning effect
Environmentally sound technology

I’ve just ordered some to use in the construction of the new office of Nanosearch, my research and advising firm (more on that later). I’ll let you know how it performs.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Conference explores design, ethics and nanotechnology

The Experimedia Center at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia will be the site of “Questions for the Future: Ethics, Nanotechnology and Design” on July 13.

The conference is sponsored by lab.3000, a “centre of excellence in design committed to building Victoria’s design capability and reputation across design professionals, creative industries, manufacturing and education.”

Speakers include:

Dr. Peter Binks, CEO of Nanotechnology Victoria Limited and member, Advisory Board for the National Nanotechnology Taskforce, a prominent speaker and writer on issues of nanotechnology, presenting an overview on nanotechnology products.

Mark Seggie, a graphic designer from Resin Design.

Mats Bjorklund will demonstrate how he animates nanotechnology materials, materials too small for the human eye to see.

Professor John St James Stewart Buckeridge, Chair of the Bioethics Committee of the International Union of Biological Sciences, and consultant on environmental ethics to UNESCO’s COMEST, will present an ethical viewpoint on nanotechnology products and materials.

One droplet of this tiny product,” according to Buckeridge’s presentation abstract, “could wipe out the entire US army...... What if?”

That’s one of the oddest tag lines I’ve ever seen for a nanotech talk. What product is he talking about? It certainly doesn’t exist today, nor will it ever exist (if only because the US army’s spread around the globe and couldn’t be isolated to wipe out with a single drop of anything.)

Sounds like another alarmist attention-getter intended to fill seats at the event by raising false fears among the general public.

But I love the idea of a conference focusing on ethics, design and nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is going to change how we design everything, so we’d better start exploring the consequences today. (photo lab.3000)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nanotech sensors to be featured at Sensors Expo 2006

Nanotech-enabled sensors will be featured at next week’s Sensors Expo 2006 outside Chicago.

Applied Nanotech (ANI) will present carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide devices and a hydrogen sensor for power transformers.

ANI will exhibit products and technologies related to four advanced sensor platforms: gated metal oxide sensors (GMOS), photo-acoustic sensing system (PAS), metal nanoparticle sensors (MNPS), and enzyme-coated carbon nanotube biosensors (ECNT). Nanotech-enabled sensors have application in commercial, industrial processing, building environmental control and monitoring, defense, and homeland security. (photo ANI)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Better beer thanks to nanotech insulation

Nanotechnology is truly impacting every aspect of our lives these days, now including the beer we drink.

Industrial Nanotech said in an announcement today that the maker of Corona, the fourth most popular beer in the world, is using Nansulate High Heat for thermal insulation and corrosion protection on an interchanger, a common piece of industrial equipment found in the industry.

And get this: The interchanger showed a 20 degrees Centigrade (36 degrees Fahrenheit) difference after a three coat application of Nansulate, at a thickness of approximately 7 mils (seven one thousands of an inch).

So let’s see, we’ve got fiberglass at R-19, rigid foam at R-30, and now Nansulate at about what, R-1,000,000,000? Pretty good stuff.

They make paint for buildings too. (photo