News Brief

Nanomaterials May Not Lower Net Environmental Impacts

The potential environmental benefits of nanomaterials may be significantly offset by the intensive demands of their manufacturing processes, according to research recently published in the

Journal of Industrial Ecology.

Nanotechnology has attracted attention within the green building industry (see


Vol. 17, No. 3) for creating building products that are higher performing than conventional materials while being less material-intensive. However, health and safety concerns have focused on the question of whether the same properties that make nanomaterials more useful than their conventional counterparts might also make them more harmful. In a “cradle to gate” study of carbon nanofiber production, scientists at Ohio State University concluded that some nanomaterials may have a life-cycle footprint of up to 100 times greater per unit of weight than that of many conventional materials. At the University of Illinois–Chicago, scientists identified aspects of nanotechnology manufacturing that may be to blame, including strict purity requirements, lower tolerances for defects, and lower yields per production process.

Published January 29, 2009

Andrea, W. (2009, January 29). Nanomaterials May Not Lower Net Environmental Impacts. Retrieved from

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