As nanotechnology is a fairly new industry, relatively speaking, a great deal of its potentials (and potential pitfalls) are yet to be discovered. Although some are concerned that nanomaterials and nanodevices may become a new and unwieldy form of pollution due to their small size, a great deal of work is being done to see what environmental benefits nanotechnology will offer.
Two main uses of nanotechnology environmentally are as a means of water filtration and as heavy metal and chlorinated hydrocarbon cleanup. Water can be filtered using carbon nanotubes, creating openings so small that while many bacteria and sediment particles will be caught, pure water molecules may still pass through.
In regards to zero-valent iron, a granulated form of the metal is in development as a means of reducing dangerous compounds such as DDT and Trichloroethene as well as heavy metals used in manufacturing. Zero-valent iron is generally either used in runoff traps or injected into the ground to react with these substances and render them less environmentally threatening.
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