Alternative Futures for Wood-based Nanomaterials
Forest products researchers are exploring the potential of developing a many innovative renewable products made from wood-based nanomaterials. “Nano” refers to nanometer, or one-billionth of a meter. Potential uses of these renewable forest products could include high-end compostable electronics, paint-on solar panels, strong and lightweight materials for airplanes and cars, and hundreds of other uses. But while the potential is great, some researchers are concerned about potential serious negative impacts on human and environmental health and the implications of increased demand for forest biomass. In collaborative research project, Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Northern Research Station developed four alternative futures that explore a wide range of possible futures for forestry, forest management, and society. These scenarios of 2050 include: continued economic growth and unfettered climate change; major social and economic collapse; tight social control over natural resource management to mitigate climate change; and a social transformation that push the boundaries of species and ecosystems as we know them today. One of the main implications of the four scenarios is that nanotechnology may be far more transformative than we may now imagine and that wood-based nanotechnology has the potential to produce a paradigm shift in forestry and forest products that could redefine forest resources.
Forest Service Partners