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Nanotechnology and Sustainability
Ruediger Haum and Michael Steinfeldt, Institute for ecological economy´research, Germany
The proposed paper deals with the subject of Nanotechnology and Sustainability Prospective Assessment of a Future Key Technology and is based on the results of the research project carried out by the IÖW on behalf of the German Ministry of Education and Research. The result of the research will be presented on the basis of a three-tier approach for the prospective evaluation and design of nanotechnology.

1. approach - prospective Evaluation of nanotechnologies and potential effects on EHS „characterization of technologies 2. approach – process evaluation Evaluation of sustainability effects on the basis of case studies on new nano-products and processes which are compared to their older counterparts 3. approach - shaping Mission statements as instruments to guide the design of new technologies under a long- and short term perspective

The prospect oriented approach has its focus on the evaluation of nanotechnology and its effects via a characterisation of the technology. In the case of Nanotechnology, some characteristics are identifiable which point to possible problems and therefore should be included in the design and development process.

Additional to that, the process evaluation approach tries to identify sustainability effects with tangible examples. It compares new with existing products and has its focus on ecological risks and benefits. The case studies present ecological profiles of new applications of nanotechnology and span from nano-innovation in displays to eco-efficient nano-varnish to process innovation in the synthesis of styrol. They also quantify risks and potential hazards.

The function of the process accompanying development is to generate information to identify environmental, health and safety effects und to confront developers with these information and to guide their future development activities accordingly, Means are mission statements or guiding principles. Both will be discussed an illustrated with the examples of “inherently safe nanotechnology” and “Guiding principle Nano-Bionics”.

 
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