Human society must become sustainable. It must release far fewer pollutants that harm humans and ecosystems. It must use energy more efficiently. It must shift energy sources away from fossil fuels, whose combustion creates local pollution and accelerated global climate change. It must be able to clean up contaminated waters and soils so that they are safe for humans and other living organisms. Among the keys for making society more sustainable are nanotechnology, biotechnology, and green manufacturing. This course will focus on the fundamentals and the implementation of these three fields for creating sustainable technologies. Approximately one third of the weeklong course will be devoted to each of the three sub-areas.
- the principles that underlie nanotechnology: what it is about the nanometer scale that gives materials special properties, how properties of nanomaterials can be exploited in sustainable technologies, and what are the risks of nanoscale materials in the environment.
- examples of nanoscale materials that are or could be used for environmental improvement or pollution control.
- examples of nanoscale materials that can be used in energy production or storage.
- the principles that underlie environmental biotechnologies: what microorganisms are useful and why, how microorganisms gain energy through metabolism, how the microorganisms’ metabolism can be channeled to achieve human goals, and how the right microorganisms are selected in a bioprocess.
- examples of how bioprocesses are used to prevent or clean up environmental pollution.
- examples of how bioprocesses are used to generate nearly pollution-free energy.
- the principles that underlie green manufacturing strategies: solvent-free chemistry, catalysis, biocatalysis, life-cycle analysis, resource recovery, and recyling.
- examples of green chemistry, materials reuse, and recycling.
- the “big picture” of sustainability applied to future cities and quality of life.
The course will integrate readings, lectures, discussion groups, and hands-on experiences that illustrate the concepts. As practical, the students will see bench-scale prototypes and full-scale systems that exploit nanotechnology, biotechnology, and green manufacturing.