1
Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge
for the Next Decade
“Fossil Fuel Efficiency Through Nano-Chemicals”
A white pape...
2
Executive Summary
As stated in the Request For Information by the Office of the President, Science and Technology
Policy...
3
Personal Biography
I am not a scientist. I am not a chemist. I am not wealthy enough to pursue “grand challenges”
on my ...
4
POSS – A Revolutionary Nanochemical
Polyhedral Oligomeric Silsesquioxane (POSS) is a revolutionary new molecular technol...
5
several technologies compete indirectly with the Company, Hybrid has no direct competitors and
has a sustainable first m...
6
Whereas regular dispersants such as stearic acid degrade around 200°C, POSS® are thermally
stable up to over 400°C.
Hybr...
7
Genesis of a Grand Challenge
I began researching POSS in May 2008. I read everything I could obtain on the topic. In my
...
8
The Grand Challenge
The President’s Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge provides a method to take my idea of
POSS-en...
9
America has the technology and intellect to improve fossil fuel efficiency. What America
doesn’t have is a singular nati...
10
The Grand Opposition
With each Grand Challenge comes grand opposition. A national or global effort to improve
fossil fu...
of 10

Nanotechnology Inspired Grand Challenge 06.19.2015

Published on: Mar 3, 2016
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Transcripts - Nanotechnology Inspired Grand Challenge 06.19.2015

  • 1. 1 Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge for the Next Decade “Fossil Fuel Efficiency Through Nano-Chemicals” A white paper submission to the Office of the President of the United States, Science and Technology Policy Office Submitted by Barry A. Cothran Email: bacothran01@gmail.com Telephone: (937) 216-8877 24 June 2015
  • 2. 2 Executive Summary As stated in the Request For Information by the Office of the President, Science and Technology Policy Office on 17 June 2015, a “Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge” should be an ambitious but achievable goal that harnesses nanoscience, nanotechnology, and innovation to solve important national or global problems and has the potential to capture the public’s imagination. With that as a guide, I submit this paper and “grand idea.” The world’s economy runs on fossil fuel. Indisputably, oil and its derivatives are one of, if not, the most important natural substance ever discovered and processed. Fossil fuel industrialized the world and provides the energy which runs and transports the global economy on the ground, in the air and on water. Fossil fuel, however, is a finite substance. It has an end. The earth’s oil tank will someday run dry. It’s not a matter of “if” but rather “when.” To that end, all other global “Grand Challenges” are dependent in one way or another on a continuous supply of fossil fuel, both now and in the future. This dependency will not end – not in our lifetime, not in our children’s lifetime, and most likely not for decades or centuries to come. No alternative energy source comes close to fossil fuel in demand or dependency. Curing cancer will save lives. Miniature electronics will change how we live. Converting sea water to potable water will benefit many cultures and societies. However, all of these share a common denominator – a dependence on fossil fuel – a fuel which will run out. The grandest challenge facing the world now is to figure out how to get more energy out of the fossil fuel we use every day. Such a Grand Challenge will demand the brightest minds in the world. Such a Grand Challenge will demand “out of the box” thinking. Increasing the energy efficiency of fossil fuel to unimaginable levels will require the increase and broadening of scientific knowledge, global collaboration between multiple disciplines, span efforts from discovery to commercialization, is too big to be undertaken by a single entity, and capture the imagination of the public on a global scale. Remarkably, this can be accomplished within the next decade. The technology exists today, and it exists in “nano” form. The basic element to accomplish this attainable endeavor is available right now, today. It does not need to be discovered. It is being produced here in America in a commercialized production facility. “It” is a nanomolecule only 1.5 nanometers in diameter but with a very big name – Polyhedral Oligomeric Silsesquioxane, or POSS for short. POSS is a revolutionary nanochemical which came into being as a viable product for use in the 1990s. With US Government financing, production scale up occurred throughout the 2000s. Today, it can be manufactured in the hundreds of tons annually, and its production processes are scalable to any global scale demand. The ultimate destiny of POSS lies in fossil fuel energy efficiency improvement through molecular dispersion, and it can happen within the next decade.
  • 3. 3 Personal Biography I am not a scientist. I am not a chemist. I am not wealthy enough to pursue “grand challenges” on my own. I am 51-year old Senior Business Analyst who supports Department of Defense industrial base installation, capacity expansion, and sustainment efforts. I am employed by one of America’s top three national defense contractors. I have an engineering degree and a Masters in Management of Technology degree, both from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). I have spent my career in various industries performing business, operations, and manufacturing management. For the past seven years I have been working for the Department of Defense performing business research and analysis on new and emerging technologies. As part of my job, I have done extensive research on POSS. I have worked directly with Hybrid Plastics, Incorporated, the company which manufactures POSS. I have read hundreds of articles and scientific reports on POSS. I have a professional relationship with the Chief Executive Officer of Hybrid Plastics. I have performed many POSS-related experiments on my own – in my office, my kitchen, my garage, and my garden. I have done things with POSS that most likely have never been done anywhere else in the world, including adding POSS to gasoline. I have no personal or financial investment in Hybrid Plastics, Inc. I have no contract with Hybrid Plastics. I have never received payment from Hybrid Plastics for any work I have done to benefit them. No promise of any type exist between Hybrid Plastics and myself regarding any work I have done, currently do, or will perform to assist them in gaining business. The assistance I provide them in seeking new markets and business opportunities is strictly of my own. I seek to advance the use of POSS because I believe it is destined to do something great for the world. For the sake of this white paper, I believe it will change consumption of fossil fuels. I submit this white paper on my own, without coordination from any person, organization, entity or company, including Hybrid Plastics, Inc. The thoughts and ideas presented in this paper are mine; I have not plagiarized from any source, other than using some historical information on POSS and Hybrid Plastics or where annotated. I have no proof that any idea presented in this paper is viable. This paper represents my own ideas from knowledge gained over several years of studying POSS. The ideas I propose may seem outlandish, but so did Thomas Edison’s idea of a lightbulb. I submit this white paper because, “Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.” George Edward Woodberry
  • 4. 4 POSS – A Revolutionary Nanochemical Polyhedral Oligomeric Silsesquioxane (POSS) is a revolutionary new molecular technology based on nanostructured chemicals. It is an entirely new, green and recyclable polymer feedstock, the first created since 1955. All over the world, POSS compounds are being hailed as the next big leap in molecular technology. More than 8,000 articles, peer-reviewed scientific papers, and patents have been produced on POSS. POSS compounds are being manufactured at commercial scale and are affordable and cost competitive. POSS compounds can be incorporated directly into existing formulations without modifying manufacturing processes. The result is immediate turn-key applicability and usability. Basic POSS molecule (1.5 nanometers in diameter) In 1991, Dr. Joseph Lichtenhan and his team at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base identified monomeric cubes based on silicon as having high potential for a next generation high temperature rocketry polymer. His collaboration with the University of California and the University of Dayton at that time produced POSS cube synthesis in meaningful quantities. He saw commercial potential for POSS, and by 1996, had a pilot plant operating. His team won the U.S. Air Force’s Basic Research Award as one of the most noteworthy basic research programs of the year. In 1997, Marrow Publications gave POSS its Future Technology Award as one of the most important “up-and-coming” technologies for the 21st Century. In 1998, Dr. Lichtenhan founded Hybrid Plastics, Incorporated and began scaling the production of POSS from laboratory to commercialized quantities. In 2004, the company relocated from California to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The company now operates in a 35,000 square feet facility on 15 acres. Hybrid Plastics is unique among nanotech companies because it actually manufactures its nano-products on a multi-ton scale. Hybrid Plastics holds, or has exclusive license to, all the significant patents relating to the “process” and “composition of matter” of the technology, as well as having its own proprietary trade secrets relating thereto. The company’s protected intellectual technology portfolio consists of multiple published patents plus a number of provisional patents. Additionally, the Company has numerous registered trademarks. While
  • 5. 5 several technologies compete indirectly with the Company, Hybrid has no direct competitors and has a sustainable first mover advantage in the field of commercially viable nanomaterials. POSS is now recognized as a platform technology. POSS nanoscopic chemicals provide unique opportunities to create revolutionary material combinations through a melding of desirable properties at the 1 nanometer length scale. These new combinations enable the circumvention of classic material performance trade-offs by exploiting the synergy and properties that only occur between materials at the nanoscale. They release no volatile organic compounds and, thereby, produce no odor or air pollution, while offering easy incorporation into existing manufacturing protocols. POSS as a Dispersant The following information is taken from the Hybrid Plastics website (www.hybridplastics.com) Effective dispersants not only reduce formulation viscosity, enabling better processing and higher filler loadings, but they also improve mechanical properties and aesthetics. POSS® Dispersants excel where other dispersants falter, namely at high temperatures. POSS® dispersants are tightly bound to the particle surface and outperform regular dispersants, which desorb and degrade at high temperature. Each POSS® dispersant molecule has three groups to bind it to the particle. This chelate / tridentate action boosts the strength of the bond over conventional monofunctional dispersants that can easily debond. The organic groups on the POSS® are chosen to match the polarity of the matrix polymer or coating for maximum dispersant efficiency.
  • 6. 6 Whereas regular dispersants such as stearic acid degrade around 200°C, POSS® are thermally stable up to over 400°C. Hybrid Plastics staff has experience developing custom made dispersants for a wide range of different fillers and pigments. Years of development work have led to these new, unique dispersants that not only outperform traditional dispersants at high temperature, but offer other benefits as well. Compared to the industry standard organosilanes, POSS® dispersants offer:  The dispersant layer is precise, 1-2nm in thickness depending upon the POSS® type chosen (thus ideal for nano-particles and quantum dots)  No VOCs given off when the dispersant binds, only traces of harmless water  No pre-hydrolysis needed Effective dispersants reduce viscosity by lessening inter-particle interactions. This is the case for POSS® dispersants. Not only can POSS® dispersants outperform the industry standard additives, they keep on working at high temperatures.
  • 7. 7 Genesis of a Grand Challenge I began researching POSS in May 2008. I read everything I could obtain on the topic. In my position, I was granted access to Hybrid Plastics’ extensive literature repository, including more than 3,000 scientific and peer-reviewed articles and more than 2,000 patents on POSS which had been filed around the world. The more I read, the greater I became intrigued. I discovered that researchers were using POSS in a multitude of ways and getting phenomenal results. The more I read, the more I became convinced that POSS was destined for greatness. Hybrid Plastics was (and still is) a very small company. Their sales and marketing staff consist of the CEO and a couple of technical employees. With limited resources, they have limited time to pursue new applications and customers. Their time is spent catering to existing customers and potential customers who have approached them for assistance. I, therefore, beginning in 2009, took it upon myself to seek out new opportunities for them. In 2009, I first approached the company’s CEO with the idea of adding POSS to automobile gasoline as a dispersant to obtain improved fuel efficiency. He was too busy then to pursue it, and he was very skeptical. He had never done any such experiments on his own. My personal e- mail shows that I contacted him in December 2010 and asked again about the idea. In early 2011, Dr. Lichtenhan sent me three different POSS samples to try on my own in gasoline experiments. To facilitate my experiments, I completely rebuilt a lawn mower combustion engine, replacing or cleaning every single part. I mounted the engine to a stable platform and mounted a temperature probe by the engine’s exhaust. My experiments were not scientific in nature, nor were they precise. I measured out a quantity of POSS and mixed it with 87 octane gasoline. There was no accuracy in measurements, nor was the amount of POSS selected from any calculable quantifications. It was basic trial and error. It should be understood that Hybrid Plastics has formulated more than 250 POSS products. The selection of the one to use in my experiments was a “best guess” and not based on any previous related experiments. I poured the POSS-gasoline mixture in the lawn mower engine’s fuel tank and began pulling the starting cord. The engine started and ran smoothly. The temperature probe next to the exhaust showed no rise in temperature as compared to a gasoline only mixture. The engine ran. There was no smoke, there was no knocking, and there was no catastrophic breakdown. My “backyard” experiment demonstrated that the addition of POSS to unleaded 87 octane gasoline had no adverse effects on engine performance, at least from an unscientific, unmeasurable stand point. Another factor I was incapable of measuring was engine performance. Due to personal reasons, I ceased experimenting and did not resume my efforts. No further experiments have been conducted by me or by anyone else in the world that is known by Dr. Lichtenhan. My POSS-gasoline experiment is the only one of its kind that is known.
  • 8. 8 The Grand Challenge The President’s Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge provides a method to take my idea of POSS-enhanced fossil fuels to a level of national attention and involvement. Based upon my experiments, I firmly believe there is validity in performing advanced research in this area. The enhancement of fossil fuels represents the clearest and most expeditious route to increased fuel efficiency for ground, air and sea vehicles which rely on fossil fuel for energy. Since the creation of the first petroleum-powered automobile almost one hundred and thirty years ago, the combustion engine has basically not changed. It is a mass of steel in which a spark ignites petroleum and causes an energetic reaction. The looks of it have changed and there are more sensors attached to it, but it is still a mass of steel where fuel ignites. For decades, United States presidents and congresses have urged and practically required automobile manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency of vehicles. Advances have been minimal. Manufacturers have struggled to find ways for a hunk of metal to improve its fuel burn. According the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), fuel economy of the combined car and light truck fleet peaked in 1987 and has declined since. The NRDC states that the United States consumes 20 million barrels of oil daily, and this will increase more than 40% over the next 20 years. NRDC also states that the U.S. passenger fleet alone currently accounts for one-tenth of the world petroleum consumption. A concerted national effort to improve petroleum fuel chemistry could reduce this.
  • 9. 9 America has the technology and intellect to improve fossil fuel efficiency. What America doesn’t have is a singular national initiative which combines industry, academia and government resources to change fossil fuel chemistry. What America doesn’t have is a Grand Challenge to improve fossil fuel efficiency. Within industry, academia and government there are individuals and teams seeking to make improvements, but on their own, their resources are limited and knowledge sharing is kept in-house. Without a collaborative national effort, each entity makes progress in small steps, according to available resources, constraints, and individual priorities and goals. Each group is funded for specific accomplishments, and when funding expires, projects are either put on hold or end entirely. Without a Grand Challenge to pull these resources together, fossil fuel efficiency improvements will continue to advance at a snail’s pace, while the depletion of the world’s fossil fuel supply continues at blinding speed. POSS may be a solution. POSS combined with other chemicals and chemistry changes may be the solution. The problem is, no one is looking at POSS as part of the solution. This is a travesty. POSS is indisputably the most versatile nano-chemical ever created. Its uses span practically every imaginable area. From biomedical to paint, from plastics to aluminum, from lubricants to personal care products, POSS has and is revolutionizing product chemistries and performance around the globe. Researchers on six continents and in hundreds of countries have experimented with POSS. More than 3,000 technical papers, peer-reviewed literature, and articles have been written about it. More than 2,000 patents have been filed on products and applications using POSS. Hybrid Plastics’ website receives more than 100,000 “hits” monthly, with the majority coming from the USA, China, South Korea, Germany, Japan, India, Taiwan, Great Britain, Turkey, Russia, and Poland. POSS is being woven into the fabric of the world. Not since fossil fuel was first used to light lamps has the opportunity presented itself to improve fossil fuel chemistry through nano-level changes in order to gain energy efficiency improvements. The technology is available. The national and international intellect is available. The public demand favors fuel efficiency improvements. The question is, will the U.S. Government stand on the sidelines and watch incremental improvements over the next decade, or will it rise to a Grand Challenge and spearhead a national concerted effort to make a Grand Change to fossil fuel chemistry in order to see a magnitude change in fuel energy efficiency? The appointment of a “Fossil Fuel Improvement Czar” and the funding of a national singular effort involving industry, academia and government would be the catalysts required to see revolutionary changes to fossil fuel used to power ground, air and sea vehicles. The objective of this Grand Challenge would be to utilize nanochemicals to create an altered fossil fuel which could be either a drop-in replacement to existing fossil fuels, or a fuel which could be used with the addition of a low-cost fuel regulator to existing combustion engines. The greatest outcome would be that which benefitted all existing combustion engines and would be affordable to global consumers.
  • 10. 10 The Grand Opposition With each Grand Challenge comes grand opposition. A national or global effort to improve fossil fuel chemistry to obtain dramatic fuel efficiency improvements will have its foes, both nationally and globally. Those with the most to lose will be the loudest opponents. Global fuel producing conglomerates stand to lose the most. If automobile fuel changes created a 20% improvement in gas mileage, fuel producers would see a dramatic reduction in fuel sales. They will say it can’t be done. They will say it is a foolish endeavor. They will say if the Grand Challenge achieves its goal, consumers will have to pay for fuel producers’ losses. Any change which reduces global petroleum use will have an army of antagonists rise up against it. This Grand Challenge, and those who support and execute it must be prepared for a global assault against their own and the project’s credibility. The Grand Dream, The Grand Challenge & The Grand Plan The Grand Dream is a world which uses less fossil fuel without sacrificing global commerce. The Grand Challenge is to incorporate nanotechnology into existing fossil fuels to obtain unprecedented fuel efficiency improvements. The Grand Plan is a national/international effort, led the U.S. Government, which pulls together the brightest minds in industry, academia, public sector and government for a singular purpose with a big goal. It is illogical to assume anyone or any entity would participate in such an endeavor out of “goodwill.” Personal gain, patents, royalties and such would have to be arranged in such a manner that participants understood the “What’s in it for me?” outcome. The organization and execution of such a Grand Challenge will demand the brightest organizers, planners and administrators. Such an organization will require full time focus. This effort should not be treated as a “committee” which only meets periodically and reports back to Congress. It will require Grand Administration and should be treated as such. The time is now. The world needs to reduce its consumption of fossil fuel. Combustion engine technology is limited in its ability to improve. Dream technologies such as solar and electric powered vehicles and biofuels are years away from meeting consumers’ demands. Food-based fuels such as ethanol reduce the world’s food availability for the sake of transportation, and they require fossil fuel to be produced. Consumers want their gas-powered vehicles. Fossil fuel chemistry is the “final frontier” to explore. Nanotechnology is available today. The U.S. Government should embark on a 10-year effort to alter fossil fuel chemistry for easy and cost efficient replacement of existing fossil fuels. If I can be of any further assistance in this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Barry A. Cothran 24 June 2015

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