Other benefits of advancing technology: BNNTs

Photo courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Hello again science fiction fans. I apologize for my long absence, but I am back and will once more be bringing you news about exciting new technologies. However, in this week's article I would like to take a different focus and examine an aspect of this topic I have rarely talked about. In previous articles I have discussed all kinds of technological innovation, from lasers, to regeneration technology and 3-D printing, and looked at the promise they hold. But, I have not looked at some of the side benefits that can come from advances in technology. This article was inspired by another article published several months ago in the Ottawa Citizen, discussing advances in manufacturing techniques that will allow Canadian companies to produce boron nitride nanotubes (or BNNTs) on a scale never possible before. This topic will serve as a perfect example of what I wish to discuss this week.

Other Benefits of Advancing Technology - Image 2
Photo courtesy of Nanotechweb.org

BNNTs are a new form of nanotube that provide many advantages over even carbon nanotubes, including greater stability and the ability to make them transparent. These advantages open up entirely new possibilities in materials science, including bulletproof windows and face shields for soldiers, stronger windshields for cars, and strengthening the materials used in daily construction. Materials like these have uses limited only by designer's imaginations.

The discovery of new manufacturing techniques, and the ability to mass produce BNNTs, carries more far-reaching benefits than just use of the materials themselves. The first one is that these advances could lead to an entirely new manufacturing sector within Canada, as factories are built to produce these new materials. The availability of these new materials could also lead to the opening of new production lines to build goods that use BNNTs in their construction. The construction of these factories will lead to more jobs and an increase in exports, both of which are good for the Canadian economy. The demand for these products on a national and international stage will be enormous, which will allow Canada to win manufacturing contracts bringing in even more economic growth.

Having easy access to BNNTs, and the new materials that are created with them, will also likely draw innovators and inventors who wish to use them to Canada, which will further stimulate economic growth. The work performed by these experts will continue to increase the Canadian knowledge base regarding the use of these materials, and has the possibility of creating an entirely new industry within Canada, as new innovations and manufacturing processes continue to increase Canada's understanding of this new technology.

Other Benefits of Advancing Technology - Image 3
Photo courtesy of Straightdope.com

If Canada can develop enough expertise and manufacturing ability to produce BNNTs and export them to other nations, this will give Canada a unique resource other nations do not have access to. This will allow Canada to approach the international bargaining table with an additional advantage, and will help to strengthen positive international relations with countries that wish to have access to our national BNNT expertise. In particular, this will help us to strengthen relations with our allies and approach international contracts on a stronger footing than we have in the past.

The advanced technologies I discuss throughout my articles will bring many breakthroughs in science and technology, and improve quality of life where they are used, but it is also important to remember they will impact the economic and political arenas as well. By ensuring we handle the use of these technologies, and the growth of the industries that create them, responsibly we can ensure Canada and the world as a whole will benefit from them.