Her department's interest in nanotech is twofold: There's research in using nanotechnology for hazardous waste cleanup, and the nanotech industry itself has its own hazardous materials issues.
More interesting to my friend, however, is the tremendous interest at the conference on using nanotech for energy issues. The keynote speaker at this conference is Shell Oil President John Hofmeister. A great many vendors are apparently investigating nanotech for use in oil extraction, "clean energy", hydrogen manufacture and storage, fuel cells, and gassification.
Suzanne also talked about the multiple detrimental effects of replacing MTBE as an oxygenator with ethanol. I'll post more later, but she touched on the net carbon footprint of using ethanol for energy as well as the effects of using ethanol in gasoline on groundwater pollution.