Nanotech today find applications in many industries, such as heavy industries, consumer goods, space exploration, healthcare, computing and electronics. This article discusses some of its uses in consumer goods industry.
Agriculture and Food Processing:
With the increase in population there is huge research going on in improving the agricultural processes through technological innovations and improving the yields. Many companies in the food production and processing industry have already taken a huge step forward in nanotech implementation. With a complete decoding of DNA of the crops combined with the ability to manipulate molecules on the nanoscale, gives industries the scope of proper nutrition delivery for the crops and improving the varieties that can be pest resistant and survive in the most difficult conditions. According to a report by the Helmut Kaiser Consultancy in 2004, the Nanofood had a market of USD2.4 billion and by 2010 it would grow to USD 20.4 billion.
Food processing has become one of the most important links in the chain of Food industry. With new food contact materials, food packaging, additives along with freshness indicators developed using nanomaterials, it has become possible to store and preserve foods for longer durations, resulting in lesser wastage of food. Materials such as nanoparticles of silver and silica have protective properties against many kinds of radiation.
Many companies have invested in nanotechnology making it a huge industry to reckon with. Some of the companies are: i. Altria (Kraft Foods), ii. Associated British Foods, iii. Ajinomoto, iv. BASF, v. Bayer, vi. Cadbury Schweppes, vii. Cargill, viii. DuPont Food Solutions, ix. General Mills, x. Glaxo-SmithKline, xi. Goodman Fielder, xii. Group Danone, xiii. John Lust Group Plc, xiv. H.J. Heinz, xv. Hershey Foods, xvi. La Doria, xvii. Maruha, xviii. McCain Foods, xix. Mars, Inc., xx. Nestle, xxi. Northern Foods, xxii. Nichirei, xxiii. PepsiCo., xxiv. Unilever, xxv. United Foods.
Textiles and Sports Apparel:
A new breed of clothing is emerging out of nanotechnology which are water repellant, UV-protective, anti-bacterial, anti-static and wrinkle resistance. Running shoes, tennis racquets, golf balls and a range other sporting goods have also been enhanced by nanotechnology. Such high performance materials require very little maintenance making. There has been much experimentation with nano-enhanced textiles in extreme environments for exploring its use in fire, space, war and intense UV light. Silver nanoparticles, for example, provide antibacterial properties while platinum and palladium decompose harmful gases or toxic chemicals. The nanocomposites have pushed down the weight of most sports gear, with a manifold increase in strength.
Companies innovating in textiles and sports apparel are: Holmenkol AG, Nanotex (US), Schoeller (China), P2i (UK), Sinotextiles (China), Green Yarn (US), HeiQ (China), Yamomoto Corp. (Japan), Nanogist, MAVI Sud (Italy), Wacaol Corp. (Japan), Mectex (Italy), TAG technology (Australia).