Commercialization of CNT-enabled Products: Tradeoffs Throughout Product Lifecycles

 Dr. Jacqueline Isaacs

Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Date:         January 23, 2014

Time:          12:30-1:30pm

Place:        665 Huntington Ave,

Bldg 1, Room 1302,

Boston, MA 02115

 

Abstract: Responsible commercialization of nano-enabled products (NEPs) will encompass not only the successful development of economically viable manufacturing techniques, but also, a conscious and systematic consideration of short and long-term societal impacts to avoid unintended consequences. The US National Nanotechnology Initiative has urged for more effective use of life cycle analysis (LCA) in decision-making, which in turn demands greater consideration of the ethical, legal, and social impacts (ELSI) of nanomanufacturing as it scales to commercial production. As part of its mission to establish novel directed self-assembly processes and techniques for continuous and scalable nanomanufacturing, the NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN at Northeastern University, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of New Hampshire) is developing three CNT applications that will soon move to large-scale production: electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, batteries, and chemical- and bio- sensors. Our current research (involving researchers from NU, UML and Yale) leverages CHN’s technical efforts by developing knowledge about life cycle impacts of CNT-enabled products – from manufacturing, through use and end-of-life. Worker safety is considered during manufacture and at product disposal in light of the uncertain hazards of CNTs. Process economics that include various levels of protection are explored. Recycled nanomaterials are explored for technical viability. Exposure assessments during end-of-life processing offer options to avoid exposures. Policy issues for responsible, sustainable development of nano-enabled products are also concurrently assessed.