The Neolithic Revolution helped our species preserve itself, compete and survive in the wild.
Switching to machine production allowed people to increase productivity by several times, going beyond limit of what humankind could create by hand.
The scientific and technological revolution began quite recently, only in the second half of the twentieth century. During this short period, by the standards of history, scientific and technological discoveries and inventions numbered in millions.
Fundamental problems, which humanity had faced for thousands of years, were now solved in a short period of time.
The achievements of the post-industrial revolution improved living conditions, resulting in an accelerated growth rate of the world’s population, fueling an equally drastic race in the quantity of materials to service them.
This rapid increase in population size and the demand from people to improve their lives through a variety of products has brought with it a dramatic increase in the production of basic materials.
Over the past 15 years the production of materials has doubled. Within the next 25 years, by conservative forecasts, the production of materials will double again. By 2040, the world will produce 30 billion tons of materials annually.
For the first time in history, human civilization has come to an inner conflict between our resource usage and the biosphere. The fundamental demand for materials and energy has given rise to major threats — the irreversible destruction of the biosphere and planet-wide climate change.
Used at the current rate, the planet’s resources are not sufficient to ensure all the Earth’s inhabitants can have the benefits of modern civilization.
It is impossible to create a new infrastructure for the production of billions of tons of material quickly — there is no time and there are not enough resources available, not to mention political will, knowledge, and money to switch to production of new materials for every industry. That is why the infrastructure of any new materials production should use all the facilities already available to mankind.
If to want to enhance the original material by 4 times, via a hardening additive of just 1%, the strength of this additive should be 400 times stronger than the original material.
Conceptually, this approach fits for all properties – strength, durability, electrical conductivity, etc.
The requirements for such a supermaterial, that can be added as 1% or less to other materials and change the composite to have highly improved properties, are extremely difficult to obtain. Of all the substances known by humankind, only carbon nanotubes and the recently discovered graphene may serve as such an additive.
On October 5, 2010, the Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of graphene, an incredible substance with very unique properties. But over the past 20 years another form of graphene has also been highly researched, called a single wall carbon nanotube. Single wall nanotubes (SWCNT) are sheets of graphene rolled into cylinders, enabling a different set of equally incredible properties. Tens of thousands of experiments have been conducted, and over the past ten years more than 10 000 patents have been registered.
Thousands of scientific publications have confirmed that nanotubes are:
A huge amount of R&D has already confirmed a crucial fact for our civilization: single wall carbon nanotubes are a truly universal additive, with the ability to greatly improve the properties, from durability to electrical conductivity, of an incredibly wide range of materials. In turn, a lower overall quantity of base materials is necessary, reducing the impact on the biosphere and humanity’s role in climate change.
Carbon nanotubes will become a new composite base material, produced industrially at minimal costs and in mass-production volumes. They will change most materials in the world.