Friday, August 18, 2006

Lotus Effects: Nano is good for the environment?

The Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s more left-leaning elite newspapers, just published a piece on environmental applications of nanotech. Two aspects of the article are especially interesting.

First, the article is one of the first examples of national mainstream media coverage in Germany on the positive environmental impacts of nanotechnology. The article talks about nano-based interior paint, for example, that can help break down chemicals, such as PCP, and destroy bacteria and fungi. It also reports on exterior paints that are water and dirt repellant. Wilhelm Barthlott at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn has trademarked the principle behind these paints as Lotus Effect®.

The second interesting aspect is the fact that this research is funded by both industry (Degussa, Ferro, etc.) and foundations, such as the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), which funds projects related to environmental protection and conservation. This may seem like a strange partnership at first, but makes a lot more sense in a country like Germany where environmental issues have long been an integral of the political agenda on both sides of the aisle and where public opinion therefore drives a lot or corporate decision making