A press release from the Institute of Physics, guaranteed to upset environmentalists. It's about a technological fix that might distract us from the serious business of creating a sustainable zero-growth hair-shirt economy:
Nanotechnology could save the ozone layer
For further information, please contact: Joanne Aslett, The Institute of Physics, firstname.lastname@example.org, 02074704875
30 January 2003
Whilst experimenting with nanospheres and perfluorodecalin, a liquid used in the production of synthetic blood, researchers at Germany's University of Ulm have stumbled across a phenomenon that could ultimately help remove ozone-harming chemicals from the atmosphere. The perfluorodecalin, against all expectations, was taken up by a water-based suspension of 60 nm diameter polystyrene particles.
The scientists believe that this occurred because nanoscopic perfluorodecalin droplets became encapsulated by self-assembled polystyrene nanospheres. Perfluorodecalin has very similar properties to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the inert liquids that are known to destroy the Earth's protective ozone layer. And the Ulm team reckons that aerosol particle-carrying water droplets or ice crystals in clouds may be able to collect up chlorofluorocarbons in the same way, eventually returning them harmlessly to Earth as rain, hail or snow. … Sommer says that if tests confirm the predictions from the simple model system, the result could be a practical strategy to stop, or possibly even repair, one of the two potentially most destructive global problems caused by mankind. He reckons scientists could use space technology to carry large amounts of specially designed non-toxic nanoscale particles into the heart of the ozone hole.