Environmental fate of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) in the estuarine environment

Status: 
Complete
Investigators: 
P. Lee Ferguson (PI), G. Thomas Chandler (co-PI), and Walter A. Scrivens (co-PI)
Funding Agency: 
US EPA STAR

Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) are finding increasing commercial use in consumer electronics and structural composites.  However, little is known about the behavior of these novel carbon nanomaterials upon entry into the aquatic environment through disposal.  We are investigating the fate of single-walled carbon nanotubes in water, sediment, and biota under simulated estuarine conditions.  The overall goal of this research is to determine what factors affect the mobility, bioavailability, and toxicity of SWNTs, as well as to examine how these black-carbon materials may influence the disposition of hydrophobic organic contaminants in the aquatic environment through sorption and sequestration.  We utilize a combination of optical methods (e.g. dynamic light scattering, raman spectroscopy, and microscopy) and radiometric analytical techniques (14C-labeling and scintillation counting) to track and characterize SWNTs in our experiments.