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Upcycling of face masks to application-rich multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes

Varun Gangoli Orcid Logo, Thomas Mahy, Tim Yick, Yubiao Niu, Richard Palmer Orcid Logo, Alvin Orbaek White Orcid Logo

Carbon Letters

Swansea University Authors: Varun Gangoli Orcid Logo, Tim Yick, Yubiao Niu, Richard Palmer Orcid Logo, Alvin Orbaek White Orcid Logo

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Abstract

We report the use of face mask materials as a carbon precursor for the synthesis of multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in an open-loop chemical recycling process. Novel surgical mask precursors were suspended in toluene and injected into a chemical vapor deposition reactor previously o...

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Published in: Carbon Letters
ISSN: 1976-4251 2233-4998
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa61175
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Abstract: We report the use of face mask materials as a carbon precursor for the synthesis of multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in an open-loop chemical recycling process. Novel surgical mask precursors were suspended in toluene and injected into a chemical vapor deposition reactor previously optimized for CNT production using liquid injection. The CNTs were collected and characterized using resonant Raman spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) before being turned into fibrils that were tested for electrical conductance. Once confirmed and repeated for statistical accuracy, a CNT-based Ethernet cable was manufactured and tested using iPerf3 for uplink and downlink speeds exceeding broadband standards worldwide. Radial breathing modes from Raman spectroscopy indicate single walled CNTs (SWCNTs) with diameters ranging from 0.8 to 1.55 nm and this matches well with TEM observations of SWCNTs with 1.5 nm diameter. This work pushes the horizon of feedstocks useful for CNT and SWCNT production in particular; this work demonstrates upcycling of materials fated for disposal into materials with positive net value and plenty of real-world applications.
Keywords: Carbon; Carbon nanotube; Electrical conductor; Face masks; Green chemistry; Recycling
College: College of Engineering
Funders: Varun Shenoy Gangoli is funded through Salts Healthcare Ltd. Thomas Mahy is funded through TRIMTABS Ltd as part of EPSRC DTP at Swansea University. Alvin Orbaek White was funded through Sêr Cymru II Fellowship by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Alvin Orbaek White and Tim Yick acknowledge funding from Welsh Government Circular Economy Capital Fund FY 2020–21. The authors acknowledge access to the SEM provided by the Swansea University AIM Facility, funded in part by the EPSRC (EP/M028267/1), the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government (80708) and the Welsh Government’s Sêr Cymru program. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results. The authors acknowledge access to the TEM provided by the Swansea University AIM Facility, funded in part by the EPSRC (EP/M028267/1), the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government (80708). Yubiao Niu is funded through the Welsh Government’s Sêr Cymru II—WEFO ERDF Programme (80761). R.E.P. acknowledges his work was associated with the IMPACT operation.