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These Are the 10 Most Important Emerging Technologies in 2013

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The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies identified the 10 most promising technology trends of 2013.

The developments certainly present an optimistic view of the world's technological potential in the upcoming years, highlighting advances that will help the environment, improve our health and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Check out the list below!

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1. 3-D Printing: This style of printing allows for the creation of solid structures from digital computer files. 3-D printing has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing by allowing virtual models to be turned into hard copies made from metal alloys, plastics and more.

Publicly-traded companies that could stand to gain by a boom in 3-D printing include printers like Statasys (NASDAQ: SSYS), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Xerox (NYSE: XRX) and Organovo Holdings (NASDAQ: ONVO). Software designers like Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and Exa Corporation (NASDAQ: EXA) also stand to benefit. (Photo: Flickr // creative_tools).



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2. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Conversion: Biologically-engineered photosynthetic bacteria have the ability to turn waste CO2 into liquid fuels or chemicals in modular solar converter systems. These systems are projected to reach hundreds of acres within two years and be 10 to 100 times more productive as a unit of land area. Their output could reduce CO2 emissions from feedstock and supply low carbon fuel for airplanes and autos.

Panasonic (NYSE: PC) is a notable player in this market through their efforts to convert CO2 into organic materials. (Photo: Flickr // Clownhouse III).

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3. Energy-Efficient Water Purification: Techniques like forward-osmosis, which uses low-grade heat or geothermal derived heat, can reduce energy consumption by 50% or more in the purification process.

Major players in water quality or purification systems include the Waters Corporation (NYSE: WAT), Watts Water Technologies (NYSE: WTS) and Siemens (NYSE: SI). (Photo: Flickr // z_wenjie).

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4. Enhanced Nutrition: Modern genomic techniques can identify proteins at the gene sequence level, providing more information about supplies of amino acids, along with solubility, taste and texture. Production of human dietary proteins and their application to molecular nutrition can boost muscle development and reduce obesity. (Photo: Flickr // mhaller1979)

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5. Nuclear Waste Recycling: Breeding uranium-238 into a new fissile material with an increased halflife and dramatically reduced long-term toxicity, can make geological disposal easier and down the line, perhaps unnecessary.

Firms that can stand benefit by these advances include Market Vectors Nuclear Energy (NYSE: NLR), Cameco (NYSE: CCJ), EnergySolutions (NYSE: ES) and US Ecology (NASDAQ: ECOL). (Photo: Flickr // roadhunter).

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6. OnLine Electric Vehicles (OLEV): The next generation of electric cars will be powered whilst driving by an electromagnetic field broadcast from cables below the road. Electric cars will only need 20% of the battery capacity they have now to achieve the same mileage.

These developments could be huge for electric car manufacturers like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), Nissan (OTC: NSANY), Ford (NYSE: F), General Motors (NYSE: GM) -- maker of the electric best-selling Chevrolet Volt -- and Toyota (NYSE: TM), the world's leading seller of hybrids. (Photo: Flickr // tomislavmedak).

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7. Organic Electronics and Photovoltaics: Organic electronics, such as polymers, can be printed with simple processes like ink jet printing to create electronic circuits and devices, giving way to a cheaper alternative to silicon and solar photovoltaic collectors, accelerating the adoption of renewable energy.

Watch solar panel makers like First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) and SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY). (Photo: Flickr // OregonDOT).

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8. Precise Drug Delivery through Nanoscale Engineering: After almost a decade of research, precise delivery of pharmaceuticals via targeted nanoparticles could give way to more effective treatments while minimizing their impact on healthy tissue.

If developments in nanotechnology continue, look for companies like Amkor Technology (NASDAQ: AMKR), ABB (NYSE: ABB) and Eaton Corp. (NYSE: ETN) to capitalize. (Photo: Flickr // ZaldyImg).

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9. Remote Sensing: Breakthroughs in wireless communication between devices have boosted the capabilities of sensors. Look for advances in vehicle-to-vehicle safety, along with sensors that monitor bodily functions and trigger responses, like an insulin provision as a response to low blood sugar levels. (Photo: Volvo)

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10. Self-Healing Materials: This growing trend in biotech will allow non-living structural materials to repair damages from cuts, tears and cracks. It could have serious implications for construction, manufacturing and medicine. (Photo: Flickr // euthman)

Follow Alex Biles on Twitter at @disorderorder

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