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Environment, Health and Safety Research

Fate and Transformation of C60 Nanoparticles in Water Treatment Processes

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorJae-Hong Kim
InstitutionGeorgia Institute of Technology
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsHigh
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorEnvironment
Broad Research Categories Generation, Dispersion, Transformation etc.
NNI identifier

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$375,000.00
Annual Funding$125,000.00
Funding SourceEPA
Funding MechanismExtramural
Funding SectorGovernment
Start Year2005
Anticipated End Year2008


The environmental impact of carbon fullerenes is of great concern due to projections for bulk production in near future and the recent discovery that they form nano-scale water-stable aggregates upon release to water. Understanding the fate and the transformations of carbon fullerenes during water treatment, currently our first line of defense against ingestion pathways, is of particular importance. Human exposure to these materials via water ingestion will be strongly influenced by the behavior of these aggregates in potable water treatment systems.


The objective of the proposed research is to examine the response of water-stable fullerene aggregates, to processes that are used in potable water treatment, using C60 and its stable aggregate, nano-C60, as a model compound. More specifically, the proposed project will test the following hypotheses:

nano-C60 with electron-rich surface will undergo chemical transformation through addition of oxygen or chlorine atom and/or charge destabilization when subject to oxidation by commonly used oxidants and disinfectants such as ozone, UV light, free chlorine and monochloramine, a unique weakly negatively charged surface of nano-C60 will lead to unique electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions with metal hydroxide soluble complexes and precipitates, with polymeric membrane surfaces, and with hydrophobic surfaces of activated carbon, and the size characteristics of nano-C60 will lead to unique filtration characteristics when filtered through nano-porous membranes and unique adsorption kinetics/equilibrium characteristics when adsorbed by activated carbons with varying pore size distributions.

Expected Results:

The outcome of the proposed research will provide basic, fundamental, yet practical knowledge in chemical and physical behavior of this nano-material during commonly practiced engineered processes. New information such as colloidal stability, chemical reaction kinetics, reaction product identity, transport behavior, and adsorptive characteristics will advance scientific knowledge in use, disposal, and treatment of this growing class of materials and will trigger additional research on water treatment technologies and facilitate appropriate toxicological studies.