Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Nanosponges soak up oil again and again: Rice, Penn State nanotube blocks show promise for environmental cleanup, among many uses

The superhydrophobic carbon nanotube sponge shows a remarkable ability to soak up oil from water. Researchers found that adding boron to the growth process creates covalent bonds in the nanotubes, making dense networks with robust qualities. (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)
The superhydrophobic carbon nanotube sponge shows a remarkable ability to soak up oil from water. Researchers found that adding boron to the growth process creates covalent bonds in the nanotubes, making dense networks with robust qualities.

(Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

Abstract:
Researchers at Rice University and Penn State University have discovered that adding a dash of boron to carbon while creating nanotubes turns them into solid, spongy, reusable blocks that have an astounding ability to absorb oil spilled in water.

Nanosponges soak up oil again and again: Rice, Penn State nanotube blocks show promise for environmental cleanup, among many uses

Houston, TX | Posted on April 16th, 2012

That's one of a range of potential innovations for the material created in a single step. The team found for the first time that boron puts kinks and elbows into the nanotubes as they grow and promotes the formation of covalent bonds, which give the sponges their robust qualities.

The researchers, who collaborated with peers in labs around the nation and in Spain, Belgium and Japan, revealed their discovery in Nature's online open-access journal Scientific Reports.

Lead author Daniel Hashim, a graduate student in the Rice lab of materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, said the blocks are both superhydrophobic (they hate water, so they float really well) and oleophilic (they love oil). The nanosponges, which are more than 99 percent air, also conduct electricity and can easily be manipulated with magnets.

To demonstrate, Hashim dropped the sponge into a dish of water with used motor oil floating on top. The sponge soaked it up. He then put a match to the material, burned off the oil and returned the sponge to the water to absorb more. The robust sponge can be used repeatedly and stands up to abuse; he said a sample remained elastic after about 10,000 compressions in the lab. The sponge can also store the oil for later retrieval, he said.

"These samples can be made pretty large and can be easily scaled up," said Hashim, holding a half-inch square block of billions of nanotubes. "They're super-low density, so the available volume is large. That's why the uptake of oil can be so high." He said the sponges described in the paper can absorb more than a hundred times their weight in oil.

Ajayan, Rice's Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of chemistry, said multiwalled carbon nanotubes grown on a substrate via chemical vapor deposition usually stand up straight without any real connections to their neighbors. But the boron-introduced defects induced the nanotubes to bond at the atomic level, which tangled them into a complex network. Nanotube sponges with oil-absorbing potential have been made before, but this is the first time the covalent junctions between nanotubes in such solids have been convincingly demonstrated, he said.

"The interactions happen as they grow, and the material comes out of the furnace as a solid," Ajayan said. "People have made nanotube solids via post-growth processing but without proper covalent connections. The advantage here is that the material is directly created during growth and comes out as a cross-linked porous network.

"It's easy for us to make nano building blocks, but getting to the macroscale has been tough," he said. "The nanotubes have to connect either through some clever way of creating topological defects, or they have to be welded together."

When he was an undergraduate student of Ajayan's at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hashim and his classmates discovered hints of a topological solution to the problem while participating in a National Science Foundation exchange program at the Institute of Scientific Research and Technology (IPICYT) in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. The paper's co-author, Mauricio Terrones, a professor of physics, materials science and engineering at Penn State University with an appointment at Shinshu University, Japan, led a nanotechnology lab there.

"Our goal was to find a way to make three-dimensional networks of these carbon nanotubes that would form a macroscale fabric -- a spongy block of nanotubes that would be big and thick enough to be used to clean up oil spills and to perform other tasks," Terrones said. "We realized that the trick was adding boron -- a chemical element next to carbon on the periodic table -- because boron helps to trigger the interconnections of the material. To add the boron, we used very high temperatures and we then 'knitted' the substance into the nanotube fabric."

The researchers have high hopes for the material's environmental applications. "For oil spills, you would have to make large sheets of these or find a way to weld sheets together (a process Hashim continues to work on)," Ajayan said.

"Oil-spill remediation and environmental cleanup are just the beginning of how useful these new nanotube materials could be," Terrones added. "For example, we could use these materials to make more efficient and lighter batteries. We could use them as scaffolds for bone-tissue regeneration. We even could impregnate the nanotube sponge with polymers to fabricate robust and light composites for the automobile and plane industries."

Hashim suggested his nanosponges may also work as membranes for filtration.

"I don't think anybody has created anything like this before," Ajayan said. "It's a spectacular nanostructured sponge."

The paper's co-authors are Narayanan Narayanan, Myung Gwan Hahm, Joseph Suttle and Robert Vajtai, all of Rice; Jose Romo-Herrera of the University of Vigo, Spain; David Cullen and Bobby Sumpter of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Peter Lezzi and Vincent Meunier of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Doug Kelkhoff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; E. Muñoz-Sandoval of the Instituto de Microelectrónica de Madrid; Sabyasachi Ganguli and Ajit Roy of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio (on loan from IPICYT); David Smith of Arizona State University; and Humberto Terrones of Oak Ridge National Lab and the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

The National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Project MURI program for the synthesis and characterization of 3-D carbon nanotube solid networks supported the research.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its "unconventional wisdom." With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Mike Williams
713-348-6728

Copyright © Rice University

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 Links

Read the open access paper at:

Related News Press

News and information

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Iranian Researchers Produce Electrical Pieces Usable in Human Body December 18th, 2014

Chemistry

How does enzymatic pretreatment affect the nanostructure and reaction space of lignocellulosic biomass? December 18th, 2014

The gold standard December 9th, 2014

Laboratories

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Student Nanotechnology Laboratories Network Set Up in Iran December 15th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Zenosense, Inc. - Hospital Collaboration - 400 Person Lung Cancer Detection Trial December 17th, 2014

SUNY Poly NanoCollege Faculty Member Selected as American Physical Society Fellow: SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Nanoscience Dr. Vincent LaBella Recognized for Significant Technological Innovations that Enable Interactive Learning December 17th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

Nanotubes/Buckyballs

A sponge-like molecular cage for purification of fullerenes December 15th, 2014

'Trojan horse' proteins used to target hard-to-reach cancers: Scientists at Brunel University London have found a way of targeting hard-to-reach cancers and degenerative diseases using nanoparticles, but without causing the damaging side effects the treatment normally brings December 11th, 2014

Detecting gases wirelessly and cheaply: New sensor can transmit information on hazardous chemicals or food spoilage to a smartphone December 8th, 2014

Green meets nano: Scientists at TU Darmstadt create multifunctional nanotubes using nontoxic materials December 3rd, 2014

Discoveries

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Creation of 'Rocker' protein opens way for new smart molecules in medicine, other fields December 18th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Pb islands in a sea of graphene magnetise the material of the future December 16th, 2014

Graphene Applied in Production of Recyclable Electrodes December 13th, 2014

Announcements

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough December 19th, 2014

Aculon Hires New Business Development Director December 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanotechnology to Increase Power, Energy of Supercapacitors December 18th, 2014

Military

UCLA engineers first to detect and measure individual DNA molecules using smartphone microscope December 15th, 2014

Nanoshaping method points to future manufacturing technology December 11th, 2014

Stacking two-dimensional materials may lower cost of semiconductor devices December 11th, 2014

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Expands Government and Defense Projects December 10th, 2014

Environment

Nanoparticles Prove Effective in Removing Phosphor from Calcareous Soil December 10th, 2014

Detecting gases wirelessly and cheaply: New sensor can transmit information on hazardous chemicals or food spoilage to a smartphone December 8th, 2014

Nanocatalysts Can Reduce Pollution Caused by Diesel Engines December 4th, 2014

Green meets nano: Scientists at TU Darmstadt create multifunctional nanotubes using nontoxic materials December 3rd, 2014

Research partnerships

Oregon researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity: Collaboration with Lund University uses modified UO spectroscopy equipment to study 'maze' of connections in photoactive quantum dots December 19th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014

FEI and Oregon Health & Science University Install a Complete Correlative Microscopy Workflow in Newly Built Collaborative Science Facility December 16th, 2014

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







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE