Altahi et al., Carbon, 2013
Fig. 1. Schematic diagram showing the fabrication process of CNTs–NAAMs [carbon nano tubes-nanoporous anodic alumina membranes] and liberated CNTs by the proposed catalyst-free CVD [chemical vapor deposition] process using non-degradable plastic bags as a carbon source. (a) As-produced NAAM prepared by electrochemical anodization of Al chips. (b) Prepared CNTs–NAAM with CNTs embedded in the alumina matrix after the CVD process. (c) Liberated CNTs after dissolution of the alumina matrix by wet chemical etching as an outcome for other applications.
Plastic grocery bags—landfill waste or material of the future?
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Non-biodegradable plastic bags are an ecological pollutant. Now, researchers at Australia's University of Adelaide have found a way to turn this waste around. How? By transforming the bags into carbon nanotubes.
Nanotubes are tiny cylinders of carbon atoms that form a material stronger than steel and significantly lighter. They're used in electronics, sports equipment, wind turbines, and more.
So, what does that have to do with old plastic grocery bags? Dusan Losic and his grad students had been using ethanol to make nanotubes. Then one of the students suggested that any carbon source should be usable. Like, say, a plastic bag.
So the team vaporized pieces of grocery bags in a furnace, producing layers of carbon. These were used to line a type of form, or mold, called a nanoporous membrane. The result? Nanotubes organized in a particular geometry, creating superstrong—and potentially much cheaper—nanotube material.
And they said you couldn’t teach an old bag new tricks.
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