“If you take all the packages in the entire U.S. and start reducing their weight by 25% to 30%, you will see a huge shift in how much gas is needed and how much can be transported,” he said.
Nano cellulose can also be used to detect changing oxygen levels in food packaging. Ireland said nano cellulose has big potential in the years ahead, but challenges remain in gearing up production plants.
Scott raised the distant possibility that nanotechnology could someday replace fats and sugars — or prevent absorption of fats and sugars — to help defeat obesity.
“The point is with nanotechnology we can move toward these goals,” he said.
Scott said consumer concerns about nanotechnology could make the fruits of the research vulnerable. Questions about the unknown effects of nanotechnology on the environment, health and biodiversity have been raised, he said. Regulatory oversight of nanotechnology has also been questioned, and resistance of food companies to engage and communicate about research and products could be problematic for consumer acceptance.