Mar
08
2007

Nanotech that helps the developing world

Rural village in Bangladesh: How will nanotechnology benefit them in the coming years?  Courtesy adrenalin.
Rural village in Bangladesh: How will nanotechnology benefit them in the coming years? Courtesy adrenalin.
You may have heard about nanotechnology enhanced pants that keep that wine stay away or even a nanotech tennis racket. But if nanotechnology is truly set to revolutionize the world we live in what benefits can the poorest people of the world expect to see?

According to a 2005 study these are the areas we should focus on first:

  1. Energy storage, production and conversion
  2. Agricultural productivity enhancement
  3. Water treatment and remediation
  4. Disease diagnosis and screening
  5. Drug delivery systems
  6. Food processing and storage
  7. Air pollution and remediation
  8. Construction
  9. Health monitoring
  10. Vector and pest detection and control

The study was developed by the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics lead by Dr. Peter Singer. Read the full report

Not surprisingly energy tops the list. According to Singer easy access to cheap energy will lead to a great deal of economic growth in the developing world. Here at the Buzz we have covered several nanotechnology energy advances that might come to market in the future. super cheap solar cells, nano ultracapacitors from MIT, nano products now.

Look for more info on some exhibits we will be rolling out soon on nanotech's impact on energy and the environment.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

Dr. Singer has recently followed up on his report with some interesting comments at a conference, Using Nanotechnology to Improve Health Care in Developing Countries:

"...it remains to be seen whether novel applications of nanotechnology will deliver on their promise. A fundamental problem is that people are not engaged and are not talking to each other. Business has little incentive-as shown by the lack of new drugs for malaria, dengue fever and other diseases that disproportionately affect people in developing countries-to invest in the appropriate nanotechnology research targeted at the developing world."

I recently participated in a discussion on these issues with a group of teens from the museum's Youth Science Center and they expressed pretty much the same feelings. They could easily see the potential for a bunch of this new technology but were skeptical about where the money would truly be spent.

Interestingly enough the same technologies that could help the poor in need of clean water seem to have a particularly apt relevance to our local problems. Several areas in Minnesota have abnormally high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in the ground water which make wells dangerous to drink from. Cheap filtering technologies would be very useful in these communities as in the developing world.

Energy research sits at the top of the above list as a way of helping the developing world. But this too could benefit our local economy by helping us to exploit our wonderful wind energy resources. Wires woven from carbon nanotubes might allow us to transport wind energy from out in the country into the cities where it is needed without the inefficiencies that make this plan untenable now. But more on that later...

posted on Thu, 03/08/2007 - 11:25pm
McKenna's picture
McKenna says:

I think you are really making a difference in the town. please continue.

posted on Fri, 03/09/2007 - 11:39am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think that nanobots will take over the world.

posted on Tue, 03/13/2007 - 11:10am
alex kennedy's picture
alex kennedy says:

I think that nanobots are really cool!

posted on Thu, 03/15/2007 - 1:34pm
Lily's picture
Lily says:

i agree with this alex kid

posted on Sun, 03/18/2007 - 10:45am
Lily's picture
Lily says:

These things are awesome!

posted on Sun, 03/18/2007 - 10:44am
Concerned aboout dust's picture
Concerned aboout dust says:

Personally, I think nanotech is dangerous. If something goes wrong, some nanotech could turn the planet to dust in seconds.

posted on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 12:17pm
SLC's picture
SLC says:

I so agree with you. I think it will harm using they nanotech cause you will never know if something ever go wrong at all. What if the nanotech did something bad to the world, how can we fix it?

posted on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 1:17pm
dylan from Iowa's picture
dylan from Iowa says:

THhe comment that is the one despising nanotech is wrong. No one would put out a substance that dangerous. do your research and use logical thinking before saying things like that. Nanotechnology SAVES LIVES!

posted on Fri, 05/04/2007 - 11:19am
Person's picture
Person says:

Are you kidding me. Of course nanotechnology is important.

posted on Fri, 05/04/2007 - 11:21am

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