Date of Award

8-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Ma, Samuel

Abstract

The strong affinity of carbon nanotubes with environmental contaminants has raised serious concern that carbon nanotubes may function as a facilitator to transport environmental pollutants from a location to another through adsorption, therefore leading to unexpected contamination and toxicity incurred by the environmental pollutants and pose new risks in unexpected places. However, this concern is not realized unless the contaminants are desorbed from carbon nanotubes. Upon contact with different environmental conditions, the desorption of environmental pollutants from CNTs varies greatly. Even though numerous investigations have been conducted to investigate the adsorption of environmental pollutants on carbon nanotubes, few studies have been done to investigate the mechanisms of desorption process. The main focus of our research is to study the influence of solution chemistry (e.g. pH, ionic strength and Natural Organic Matter) on the desorption of preloaded 1,3,5-trichlorobenzene (1,3,5-TCB) from multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). Due to the manipulative surface property and the existence of a variety of functionalized carbon nanotubes, the effect of surface properties of carbon nanotubes on the desorption process was also investigated. The investigation showed that both the solution chemistry and surface chemistry has substantial impact on the adsorption of 1,3,5-TCB on carbon Nanotubes. Aqueous solution chemistry of ionic strength and NOM showed significant difference in desorption with the change in surface chemistry of MWNTs. Functionalized MWNTs with oxygen containing functional group shows less affinity toward the desorption process than the non-functionalized one. pH showed not much significant difference for desorption between the no-functionalized and functionalized MWNTs but proved notable difference in desorption between the acidic and basic state.

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