Sri Lanka is sitting on a ‘Nano technology gold mine’. It has not utilized its potential to the world market, said one of Asia’s leading nano-scientists Dr Lalin Samaranayake.
He said that nano can drive Sri Lanka to be made the ‘Wonder of Asia’.
Speaking at an event held in Kirimatiyagama, in Kelaniya he said that while Sri Lanka has the technology to reap economic benefits the country is only exporting raw materials.
“Sri Lanka sells nano raw materials such as graphite, silica, titanium dioxide and clay for various industries in the world and imports finished products spending a lot of foreign currency.”
Sri Lanka now has an opportunity to add a premium value to its raw materials through research and development work in nano-technology by local scientists and engineers.
For example, processes have been designed and developed to produce titanium dioxide and nano titanium dioxide which will save more than ten times the foreign exchange spent on importing them for local industries.
In addition, methods have been invented and patented to produce carbon nano tubes of very high quality and purity which has a market price of about US $ 500 per gram whereas currently the raw graphite is exported from the local mines at US $ 1,200 per metric tonne.
Hence the knowledge base and the technology drive has been created and instated in-house and it is high time to invest on them with a vision and put into practice where nano technology based high quality products with ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ reach the global market. “That way we shall not be very far from economic prosperity,” he said.
He said that one of the biggest advantages of nano technology is that it uses low investment and high returns. In addition nano technology also uses very low electricity and factories do not need large areas.
“This makes nano very viable investment for the private sector,” he added.
Another major advantage is that raw materials to produce nano tubes and other export telecast material are freely available even for another century.
Samaranayake who is based in Sweden said that the recent budget has provided incentives for research and this is a very good initiative.
He said that currently nano technology is being used in the manufacture of fertilizer it should be used for better use. nano technology can be used to produce high quality apparel products. In rubber industry too we can add more value to our rubber products.However one of the biggest disadvantages of implementation of nano technology is the delay in building a Nano Park that was in the pipeline for over five years.
Today Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi has once again come forward to build the Nano Park in Homagama with the assistance of UNESCO.
MAS Holdings, Brandix, Jinasena, Dialog and Sri Lanka Telecom too are expected to join in this project. Over 50 acres of land had been allocated for this and the construction is expected to commence next March.