Main content area

C60 fullerenes from combustion of common fuels

Tiwari, Andrea J., Ashraf-Khorassani, Mehdi, Marr, Linsey C.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.547 pp. 254-260
aerosols, coal, combustion, emissions, fuelwood, fullerene, gasoline, particulates, propane, risk, transmission electron microscopy
Releases of C60 fullerenes to the environment will increase with the growth of nanotechnology. Assessing the potential risks of manufactured C60 requires an understanding of how its prevalence in the environment compares to that of natural and incidental C60. This work describes the characterization of incidental C60 present in aerosols generated by combustion of five common fuels: coal, firewood, diesel, gasoline, and propane. C60 was found in exhaust generated by all five fuels; the highest concentrations in terms of mass of C60 per mass of particulate matter were associated with diesel and coal. Individual aerosols from these combustion processes were examined by transmission electron microscopy. No relationship was found between C60 content and either the separation of graphitic layers (lamellae) within the particles, nor the curvature of those lamellae. Estimated global emissions of incidental C60 to the atmosphere from coal and diesel combustion range from 1.6 to 6.3tyr−1, depending upon combustion conditions. These emissions may be similar in magnitude to the total amount of manufactured C60 produced on an annual basis. Consequent loading of incidental C60 to the environment may be several orders of magnitude higher than has previously been modeled for manufactured C60.