Navigation Links
Making sure the wonder materials don't become the wonder pollutant

Carbon nanotubes are 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, yet stronger than steel and more durable than diamonds. They conduct heat and electricity with efficiency that rivals copper wires and silicon chips, with possible uses in everything from concrete and clothes to bicycle parts and electronics. The have been hailed as the next wonder material for what could become a multi-billion dollar manufacturing industry in the 21st century.

But as useful as nanotubes may be, the process of making them may have unintentional and potentially harmful impacts on the environment. MIT/WHOI graduate student Desire Plata and her mentorschemists Phil Gschwend of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Chris Reddy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutionrecently analyzed ten commercially made carbon nanotubes to identify the chemical byproducts of the manufacturing process and to help track them in the environment.

Plata found that the ten different carbon nanotubes had vastly different compositions; most previous toxicity studies have generally assumed that all nanotubes are the same. This diversity of chemical signatures will make it harder to trace the impacts of carbon nanotubes in the environment

In previous work (first presented last fall), Plata and colleagues found that the process of nanotube manufacturing produced emissions of 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. They also found that the process was largely inefficient: much of the raw carbon went unconsumed and was vented into the atmosphere.

The new research by Plata et al was published April 3 on the web site of the journal Nanotechnology. In the next phase of Platas work, she will collect real-time data from a European nanotube manufacturing facility that is poised to let her set up the same monitors she used in the MIT lab.

It is the indiscriminant use of poorly understood chemicals that causes environmental and public health costs, Plata said. We want to work proactively with the carbon nanotube industry to avoid repeating environmental mistakes of the past. Instead of reacting to problems, we hope to preclude them altogether.

Plata was honored in February for her nanotube work by the Division of Environmental Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, which selected her as a winner of one of its 2008 Graduate Student Paper Awards.


Contact: Media Relations
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Related biology news :

1. LSU scientist finds evidence of rain-making bacteria
2. Is that sea otter stealing your lunch -- or making it?
3. Making sense of antisense microRNAs
4. GBIF making the search for biodiversity research resources easier
5. Another type of nanotube, a how-to guide to making bamboo-structured carbon nanotubes
6. Coal and black liquor can produce energy from papermaking
7. Lensless camera uses X-rays to view nanoscale materials and biological specimens
8. Sea cliff erosion, hemp construction materials and more at UCSD Engineering Conference
9. Purdue researchers obtain a snapshot clarifying how materials enter cells
10. Scientists discover record-breaking hydrogen storage materials for use in fuel cells
11. Keck Foundation funds study of biological interactions with nanomaterials
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/26/2015)... and LAS VEGAS , ... Nok Labs , an innovator in modern authentication and ... today announced the launch of its latest version of ... platform enabling organizations to use standards-based authentication that supports ... Nok S3 Authentication Suite is ideal for organizations deploying ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... California , October 23, 2015 ... (SMI) announce a mobile plug and play integration of ... real-world tasks SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) present ... wearable solutions for eye tracking and physiological data registration. ... SMI Eye Tracking Glasses 2w and physiological ...
(Date:10/22/2015)... 2015 About fingerprint biometrics ... individual with the database to identify and verify an ... loop. Pattern-based algorithms are used to match an individual,s ... was introduced in 1986, which is being used by ... criminal. Technavio,s analysts forecast the global fingerprint ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), ... MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing ... AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QUEBEC CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... (the "Company") announced today that the remaining 11,000 ... Common Share Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") ... agreement were exercised on November 23, 2015, which ... Common Shares.  After giving effect to the issuance ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Creation Technologies would like ... to Deloitte's 2015 Technology Fast 500 list of the fastest growing companies in ... Class II medical device that speeds up orthodontic tooth movement by as much ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. , Nov. 24, 2015  PDL ... John P. McLaughlin , the company,s president and chief ... Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference next week in New ... and will occur on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 9:30 ... and Presentations." Please connect to the website at least 15 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: