Jim D. Mason is executive director of the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Initiative.
Q: Your annual nanotechnology conference is next month, with an eye toward how it can be used in the energy industry. What kind of applications will speakers talk about?
A: NanoFocus 2010 will be held April 1-2 and will feature Nanotechnology Applications for Energy: Batteries, Natural Gas, Oil, Solar and Wind. The conference has a blend of local, state and national speakers with a major focus on areas that Oklahoma companies and university researchers are currently developing new technologies.
Q: Is nanotechnology being widely used in the industry at this point?
A: Nanotechnology applications are emerging from basic research that is being conducted worldwide. I can't say that nanotechnology is widely used right now but Oklahoma is becoming recognized as a leader in applications of nanotechnology and it just makes sense to begin to apply what we are learning to the energy field which is such a significant part of our economy. There are a lot of new innovations in the renewable energy fields and I think there are equally as many innovations on the horizon for our strong suite of traditional oil and gas exploration. Some of these innovations include nano sensors that can go down in the well to report back information on temperatures, pressures, size of reservoir, and much, much more. On the drawing board are better quality drilling fluids, lighter weight but stronger drilling pipe; stronger more durable drilling bits, new lighter, and stronger nano composites for compressed natural gas, just as starters. Other uses will include lighter weight, stronger wind turbine blades, more efficient solar cells and the world's smallest rechargeable batteries, all of which can come from Oklahoma!
Q: Do you think it's a good option for the energy industry?
A: Absolutely, nanotechnology is opening an entirely new area of innovation leading to better lubricants, corrosion resistant coatings, more durable values and fittings, many of which are just starting to be developed.