Nanotechnology for Industrial Resource Efficiency

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Nanotechnology involves manipulating matter at the atomic and molecular level to create new materials and products with unique properties. In the context of industrial resource efficiency, nanotechnology can be used to develop materials and coatings that are more efficient, durable, and sustainable, reducing resource consumption and waste generation.

Impact on climate action

Nanotechnology for Industrial Resource Efficiency revolutionizes manufacturing by enhancing material properties and process efficiency. Through precise control at the nanoscale, it reduces resource consumption, minimizes waste, and lowers energy usage, contributing to climate action by mitigating emissions and fostering a more sustainable industrial landscape.


  • Nanomaterials: These are materials with at least one dimension in the nanoscale (1-100 nanometers). Nanomaterials can have unique properties, such as increased strength, improved electrical conductivity, and enhanced catalytic activity.
  • Nanoparticles: These are particles with dimensions in the nanoscale. Nanoparticles can be used to improve the properties of materials or to create new functionalities.
  • Nanocoatings: These are thin coatings applied to surfaces at the nanoscale. Nanocoatings can improve the durability, corrosion resistance, and other properties of materials.
  • Self-Assembly: This process involves using the natural properties of molecules and nanoparticles to assemble them into ordered structures. Self-assembly can be used to create new materials and devices with unique properties.

TRL : 4-8 (depending on the specific nanotechnology application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Nanostructured Materials for Energy Efficiency: Researchers and startups are developing nanostructured materials that can improve the efficiency of solar panels, batteries, and other energy technologies.
  • Nanocoatings for Durability and Corrosion Resistance: Nanocoatings can be applied to surfaces to improve their durability, corrosion resistance, and other properties, extending the lifespan of materials and reducing waste.
  • Nanoparticles for Catalysis and Water Treatment: Nanoparticles can be used as catalysts to improve the efficiency of chemical reactions and for water treatment applications.
  • Nanotechnology for Lightweight and Strong Materials: Nanomaterials can be used to create lightweight and strong materials for use in transportation and other industries, reducing resource consumption and improving energy efficiency.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Svenska Aerogel:
    • Technology Enhancement: Svenska Aerogel develops and manufactures aerogel-based materials using nanotechnology. Their proprietary technology enables the production of lightweight, highly insulating materials with exceptional thermal and acoustic properties.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Svenska Aerogel’s aerogel materials offer superior performance compared to traditional insulation materials, such as foam and fiberglass. Their nanotechnology-based approach allows for the customization of material properties for specific applications, including construction, transportation, and energy storage.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Svenska Aerogel serves industries seeking innovative insulation solutions, including construction, automotive, aerospace, and energy storage sectors. Their aerogel materials provide lightweight, durable, and energy-efficient solutions for thermal insulation, soundproofing, and battery technology.
  • XG Sciences:
    • Technology Enhancement: XG Sciences specializes in the production of graphene nanoplatelets and other advanced nanomaterials. Their proprietary manufacturing process allows for the scalable production of high-quality graphene-based materials with unique properties, such as high conductivity, strength, and flexibility.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: XG Sciences’ graphene nanoplatelets offer superior mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties compared to traditional materials. Their nanotechnology-based approach enables the development of innovative solutions for electronics, automotive, aerospace, and energy storage applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: XG Sciences serves industries seeking to leverage the unique properties of graphene-based materials, including electronics, automotive, aerospace, energy storage, and consumer goods sectors. Their nanomaterials enable the development of lighter, stronger, and more efficient products with enhanced performance and functionality.
  • Nanoco Technologies:
    • Technology Enhancement: Nanoco Technologies develops quantum dots and other nanomaterials for use in displays, lighting, and imaging applications. Their proprietary nanotechnology enables the production of highly uniform and stable quantum dots with precise optical properties.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Nanoco’s quantum dots offer superior color purity, brightness, and efficiency compared to conventional display technologies. Their nanomaterials enable the development of high-resolution displays, energy-efficient lighting, and advanced imaging systems for various industries.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Nanoco Technologies serves industries seeking to enhance display and lighting technologies, including consumer electronics, automotive, healthcare, and security sectors. Their quantum dots enable the production of vibrant, energy-efficient displays and lighting systems with improved performance and durability.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is a pioneer in research on Nanotechnology for Industrial Resource Efficiency, focusing on developing advanced nanomaterials, nanostructures, and nanodevices for improving energy efficiency, resource utilization, and environmental sustainability in industrial processes.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves leveraging nanoscale phenomena and engineered nanomaterials to enhance the performance and functionality of industrial systems, such as sensors, catalysts, membranes, and coatings, leading to improved efficiency and reduced environmental impact.
    • End-use Applications: MIT’s work has applications across various industries, including manufacturing, energy, and healthcare. For example, they’re researching nanostructured catalysts for more efficient chemical reactions, nanoporous membranes for water purification and desalination, and nanocomposite materials for lightweight and durable structural components in transportation and construction.
  • Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts cutting-edge research on Nanotechnology for Industrial Resource Efficiency, exploring novel nanomaterial synthesis techniques, nanofabrication processes, and nano-enabled technologies for enhancing resource efficiency and sustainability in industrial applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves integrating nanotechnology with other emerging fields such as photonics, quantum computing, and materials science to develop innovative solutions for energy conversion, storage, and utilization, as well as waste minimization and recycling.
    • End-use Applications: Their work finds applications in electronics, photonics, and environmental remediation. For instance, they’re researching nanostructured materials for high-efficiency solar cells, nanocomposite coatings for corrosion protection, and nanoparticle-based sensors for real-time monitoring of air and water quality.
  • University of California, Berkeley:
    • Research Focus: UC Berkeley is actively involved in research on Nanotechnology for Industrial Resource Efficiency, focusing on developing nanomaterials, nanodevices, and nanomanufacturing processes for improving energy and resource utilization in industrial processes.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves exploring the unique properties and functionalities of nanomaterials, such as quantum confinement effects, surface plasmon resonance, and enhanced catalytic activity, to develop innovative solutions for sustainable manufacturing, clean energy production, and environmental protection.
    • End-use Applications: UC Berkeley’s work has applications in electronics, biotechnology, and environmental monitoring. For example, they’re researching nanoelectronic devices for low-power computing, nanostructured electrodes for high-performance batteries and fuel cells, and nanosensors for detecting pollutants and contaminants in air and water.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Nanotechnology is already being used in various commercial applications, including electronics, coatings, and medical devices. For example, nanostructured materials are used in lithium-ion batteries to improve their performance, while nanocoatings are used to protect surfaces from corrosion and wear.