Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Helping the carbon nanotube industry avoid mega-mistakes of the past

These spaghetti-like structures are carbon nanotubes viewed under an electron microscope. The manufacture of these nanotubes can produce toxic byproducts, researchers report.

Credit: Photo by Anastasios John Hart
These spaghetti-like structures are carbon nanotubes viewed under an electron microscope. The manufacture of these nanotubes can produce toxic byproducts, researchers report.

Credit: Photo by Anastasios John Hart

Abstract:
A new analysis of by-products discharged to the environment during production of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) — expected to become the basis of multibillion-dollar industries in the 21st Century — has identified cancer-causing compounds, air pollutants, and other substances of concern, researchers reported here today at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Helping the carbon nanotube industry avoid mega-mistakes of the past

Boston, MA | Posted on August 20th, 2007

Study co-author Desirée L. Plata and colleagues described their work as "totally new," noting that past analyses of the environmental impact of the emerging nanomaterials industry have been based on the toxicity of ingredients used in the recipes, rather than the actual pollutants formed during CNT manufacture. While expressing concern about the possible health and environmental effects of nanotechnology by-products, Plata said the new data may be crucial as the nanotechnology industry seeks to avoid the kind of unanticipated health and environmental problems that have accompanied emergence of other new technology.

Researchers said, for instance, that they foresee developing, in collaboration with the CNT industry, "green chemical" reactions and filtration systems to substitute for those with potentially hazardous by-products and other ways of manufacturing carbon nanotubes that minimize potentially adverse impacts.

"Without this work, the environmental and health impacts of the carbon nanotube industry could be severe and costly to repair," said Plata, a doctoral student in chemical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "We would like to help it develop in an environmentally sustainable fashion."

Recent experiences with other industrial pollutants underscore the need to try to improve nanotube manufacturing methods before serious problems arise, said Plata. These pollutants include Freon refrigerants, the gasoline additive methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE), flame retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and the surfactant perfluoroctane sulfanate (PFOS), she noted. Her collaborators include graduate advisor Christopher M. Reddy, Ph.D., of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass. and Philip M. Gschwend, Ph.D., of MIT.

Carbon nanotubes, submicroscopic cylinders of carbon that are thousands of times smaller in diameter than the width a single human hair, possess characteristics not found in their larger, bulk counterparts, including enhanced strength and high electrical conductivity.

Studies by other scientists have shown that carbon nanotubes, which come in many sizes and shapes, can damage the lungs of mice, but their exact risk to human health remains unknown. Even less is known about the potential effects of the by-products of nanotube production, the researchers said.

To evaluate the emission products formed during nanotube production, Plata and her associates utilized a small-scale device to simulate "chemical vapor deposition," one of the main methods for making CNTs. Using a carbon vapor source, the researchers produced CNTs and analyzed chemical by-products from the reaction.

They found at least 15 aromatic hydrocarbons, including four different kinds of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) similar to those found in cigarette smoke and automobile tailpipe emissions. The most harmful PAH identified was benzo[a]pyrene, a known human carcinogen, the researchers said. They also saw release of other hydrocarbons that can contribute to smog formation and can trigger the formation of ozone in the lower atmosphere, which can in turn cause respiratory problems in humans, Plata said.

"If nanotubes are produced in the tons, there will also be tons of PAHs produced," Plata notes. She said that the key solution to the problem may also be to employ special filters or ‘scrubbers' in the production process to reduce the formation of harmful by-products.

Another possible solution is to develop new nanotube manufacturing processes that produce fewer toxins, said Plata, who notes that the research team is currently working with four of the major nanotube producers in the United States to help develop strategies to make production more environmentally friendly.

CNTs are already produced on a small industrial scale, and the researchers plan to measure actual emissions at several industrial sites in the near future to get a clearer picture of real-world pollutant emissions.


Funding for the study was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing.

####

About American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society — the world’s largest scientific society — is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Note for reporters’ use only: For full information about the Boston meeting, including access to abstracts of more than 9,500 scientific papers and hundreds of non-technical summaries, visit http://www.acspresscenter.org. News release images are available at http://chemistry.org/bostonnews/images.html.

The poster on this research, ENVR 187, will be presented from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20, in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC), Exhibit Hall C, during “Sci-Mix.” It will also be presented from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, Aug 22, BCEC, Exhibit Hall C, as a poster during the “Symposium Honoring Dr. Walter Giger.”

Desiree L. Plata, is a doctoral student in chemical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Charmayne Marsh

617-954-3488 (Boston, Aug. 19-23)
202-872-4400 (Washington, D.C.)

Michael Bernstein

202-872-4400

Copyright © American Chemical Society

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Discoveries

More is less in novel electronic material: Adding electrons actually shrinks the system April 27th, 2015

Two-dimensional semiconductor comes clean April 27th, 2015

Scientists join forces to reveal the mass and shape of single molecules April 27th, 2015

Sensor Designed in Iran Able to Remove Formaldehyde Gas from Environment April 27th, 2015

Announcements

Scientists join forces to reveal the mass and shape of single molecules April 27th, 2015

The 16th Trends in Nanotechnology International Conference (TNT 2015) unveils 25 Keynote Speakers: Call for abstracts open April 27th, 2015

Graphenea celebrates fifth anniversary April 27th, 2015

Sensor Designed in Iran Able to Remove Formaldehyde Gas from Environment April 27th, 2015

Environment

Nanoparticles Used to Improve Mechanical, Thermal Properties of Cellulose Fibers April 23rd, 2015

Young NTU Singapore spin-off clinches S$4.3 million joint venture with Chinese commercial giant March 23rd, 2015

New processing technology converts packing peanuts to battery components March 22nd, 2015

EU Funded PCATDES Project has completed its half-period with success March 19th, 2015

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

MIPT researchers put safety of magic anti-cancer bullet to test April 6th, 2015

NNI Publishes Workshop Report Assessing the Status of EHS Risk Science: Report examines progress three years after the release of the 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy March 23rd, 2015

Are current water treatment methods sufficient to remove harmful engineered nanoparticle? March 10th, 2015

More study needed to clarify impact of cellulose nanocrystals on health: Few studies explore toxicity of cellulose nanocrystals March 10th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project