Here are some provocative food, environment, technology and society related
predictions recently issued by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory. Too bad this isn't a democratic referundum allowing
our vote. I suspect few of us would vote for all ten.
--- begin forwarded text
Environment Wins in Technology Forecast
EarthVision News Reports
RICHLAND, WA, April 20, 1998 - According to the Department of Energy's
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, by the year 2008, drinking water
will be safer, lighter weight cars will get 80 miles to a gallon and food
crops will be engineered genetically to require less pesticide and
In its first environmental technology forecast, a team of researchers at
the Laboratory has identified the 10 most important technological
breakthroughs that will lead to a cleaner environment while providing major
benefits to consumers over the next decade. Technologies that help prevent
problems before they arise surfaced as a major theme.
"Our team members represent decades of experience on national and
international environmental issues including global climate change,
environmental technology development and remediation of major waste sites
worldwide," says Gerry Stokes, associate laboratory director at Pacific
Northwest. "Dreams and demos now, these technologies will have real impacts
by 2008." Pacific Northwest researchers ranked the top 10 environmental
technological breakthroughs for 2008 as:
1. Agrogenetics--Genetic engineering and plant manipulation will reduce
agricultural impacts on the environment. Growing crops will require less
pesticide due to greater resistance to pests. Other crops will be
engineered to use their nutrients efficiently requiring less fertilizer or
water while providing higher yields. And, crops with several new features
-- such as soybeans that taste better, use less fertilizer and resist pests
-- will be available.
2. Smart water treatment--Smart membranes, or filters, will improve
water treatment at sewage plants and municipal water supplies by adjusting
simply or even automatically to unclog themselves. Membranes and other
techniques will remove organic compounds,
which currently can result in undesired reactions with chlorine.
Sponge-like grains of sand will attract and hold nitrates and heavy metals
to further protect drinking water in large and small systems.
3. Renewable energy storage--In 10 years, improved power storage will
increase the use of electricity from solar and wind power. For example,
solar power collected during the day could be stored in rapidly spinning
flywheels and used at night. The result will be power on demand instead of
when the sun shines or wind blows. These renewable energy sources also will
help slow increases in greenhouse gases by replacing carbon-based fuels.
4. Micro is beautiful--The silicon chip ushered in micromanufacturing.
Now micro technology for producing and using everything from chemicals to
energy will provide economic and environmental advantages. For example,
room air will be heated and cooled more efficiently in tiny channels of
micro heat pumps, saving energy. And, micro chemical plants will produce
industrial chemicals as needed, thereby eliminating storage and
transportation safety issues.
5. Paperless society--Innovative displays, wireless communications and
customized web magazines will help reduce the mounds of paper in our lives
as well as the environmental impacts from paper and ink manufacturing and
use. Advanced display systems may imitate paper in their flexibility and
portability. One approach will project images directly on the retina of the
eye. This capability, coupled with a cellular phone, could provide everyone
from couch potatoes to business travelers with faxes and customized news
anywhere. For paper products that continue to be used, biodegradable inks
be more common.
6. Molecular design--An understanding of how materials behave at the
molecular level will help in the development of advanced materials and more
efficient solar cells. Molecular design of catalysts could make chemical
reactions and processing so precise that little or
no wastes are produced. And sensors designed at the molecular level will
monitor manufacturing of materials and chemicals more precisely, halting or
correcting processes sensitive to temperature changes and other parameters.
The result will be higher quality products with fewer environmental impacts.
7. Bioprocessing grows more products--Microorganisms and plants will
"grow" environmentally friendly chemical and biological products such as
drugs, proteins and enzymes for many uses. Producing chemical feedstocks,
fuels and pharmaceuticals in this manner will be cost effective and better
for the environment. Microorganisms retrieved from extremely hot, cold or
forbidding environments are renewing excitement in the bioprocessing
industry for the production of "extremozymes." These enzymes expand the
range of temperatures and conditions used in manufacturing biotech
products, creating opportunity for new, environmentally friendly
bioprocesses while saving time and energy.
8. Real-time environmental sensors--These innovative sensors will be a
major boon to public health. Supermarkets will use sensors to detect E.
coli and other dangerous pathogens in food. Workplace air quality will be
monitored to prevent "sick building syndrome." Other benefits include
monitoring the environment on airplanes, at hospitals to prevent infections
and in municipal water supplies. The same technology will help guard
against pathogens used in biological terrorism.
9. Enviromanufacturing and recycling--In 10 years, "green" companies
will create products that are environmentally friendly from cradle to
grave. Plastics, paper, beverage containers and inks, as well as cars and
computers, will be more biodegradable or recyclable. Also, newer processes,
such as dry cleaning with liquid carbon dioxide, will minimize or eliminate
waste. Hazardous chemicals no longer will be used to clean clothes and the
carbon dioxide will be captured and recycled so as not to add to
10. Lightweight Cars--Squeezing every ounce possible out of cars will
mean a family sedan that gets at least 80 miles per gallon of gas,
generates less pollution and uses less gas. Lighter cars will be built with
less steel and more lightweight aluminum, magnesium, titanium and
composites. Advanced metal-forming techniques will provide precisely the
strength needed at every point, eliminating all excess weight from today's
designs. Creating a composite sandwich of glass and plastic will cut the 68
kilograms (150 pounds) of glass in today's cars a third or more. Composite
glass also will begin playing a structural role so that metal can be
reduced. Today's 45.4-kilogram (100-pound) air conditioners will weigh half
as much once glass is specially coated to reflect or absorb heat radiation.
Pacific Northwest is one of DOE's nine multiprogram national laboratories
that conducts basic and applied research to solve problems in
environmental, energy, health and national security arenas. The Laboratory
has been operated for DOE by Battelle since 1965.
Source: Department of Energy
--- end forwarded text
Douglas B. Johnson
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command