Oil man seeks nanotech to satisfy supply needs
All eyes were on Shell Oil Company president John Hofmeister at NSTI NanoTech’s opening keynote. A political scientist by training, Hofmeister’s talk was peppered with all of the right buzzwords - carbon neutral, tipping point, hydrogen economy, wind and solar. But how big a role will headline-hitting alternative energies have in satisfying our future energy needs and what part can nano play?
Much like Lawrence Gasman in his book “Nanotechnology applications and markets”, Hofmeister also backs the vision that nano’s biggest contribution to solving the energy crisis will be in the oil and gas sector. According to Hofmeister, nanotechnology’s benefits will be felt strongly in the development of membranes for cleaning-up coal gasification as well as in the formulation of additives for burning fuel more efficiently. Bigger news is that nanoscience could make it economically viable to extract potentially huge amounts of oil from unconventional sources such as sands and shales.
It’s not all about oil and gas though and Shell remains involved in fuel cells, wind and solar technologies. Concerning solar, Hoffmeister explained that Shell has recently divested its ten year interest in silicon and is now placing its bets on Cu In Se thin film technology as being the best way forward.
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