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Sustainability Effects of the Manufacturing and Application of Nanotechnological Products

Nanotechnology is increasingly promoted by national and international research and technology politics. It holds huge potentials on the future technology markets.But the assessment of its impacts on society and environment is ambivalent. On one hand nanotechnology is thought to have environmental benefits, on the other hand the risks of using nanotechnology are stressed. The purpose of the research project "Sustainability Effects of the Manufacturing and Application of Nanotechnological Products" is to analyse the ecological opportunities and risks of this new developing technology and the potentials of influencing the technology development. If necessary, we will develop political advice for using these potentials.The project includes two steps of analysis and assessment:a) First, we will carry out a sustainable technology assessment of nanotechnologies in general. This will focus on the characteristics of this technology and its socio-economic context. We will use the current methods of material and technology assessments and will improve them by integrating sustainability aspects. We will develop criteria for an anticipatory technology assessment, in order to reduce uncertainty in the process of technology development - particularly on ecological questions.b) After that, special applications of these specific technologies will be assessed.Based on the sustainable technology assessments, 'typical' applications will be identified. In case studies, we will generate ecological profiles of these applications. The results of the assessments will be evaluated in terms of generalisation. This might lead to a modification of the general assessment methods.

IÖW Project Team