Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Designing consumer electronics to minimize environmental impact of future electronic waste

Date:
March 21, 2012
Source:
University of Florida
Summary:
The percentage of electronic waste occupying our landfills has grown at an alarming rate over the last decade, giving rise to concerns about the toxicity of components used in consumer electronics.

The percentage of electronic waste occupying our landfills has grown at an alarming rate over the last decade, giving rise to concerns about the toxicity of components used in consumer electronics.

Researchers at the University of Florida are looking for ways to minimize environmental hazards associated with a material likely to play an increasingly important role in the manufacture of these goods in the future. The results of their most recent studies are published in the March 2012 issue of Nanotoxicology.

Carbon nanotubes are already being used in touch screens and to make smaller, more efficient transistors. And if current research to develop them for use in lithium ion batteries is successful, carbon nanotubes could become important technology for powering everything from smartphones to hybrid vehicles. But for all of the promise developers see in this emerging technology, there is also some concern.

"Depending on how the nanotubes are used, they can be toxic -- exhibiting properties similar to asbestos in laboratory mice," said Jean-Claude Bonzongo, associate professor of environmental engineering at UF's College of Engineering. He is involved in a research collaboration with Kirk Ziegler, a UF associate professor of chemical engineering, to minimize this important material's potential for harm.

In particular, the UF team is investigating toxicity associated with aqueous solutions of carbon nanotubes that would be used in certain manufacturing processes.

"At the nano-scale, electron interactions between atoms are restricted, and that creates some of the desirable traits like the high conductivity that manufacturers want to take advantage of with carbon nanotubes," Ziegler said. "But exploiting those properties is difficult because the nanotubes tend to clump together."

For that reason, carbon nanotubes have to be treated in some way to keep them dispersed and available for electron interactions that make them good conductors. One way to do it is to mix them with an aqueous solution that acts as a detergent and separates the tangled bundles.

"Some of the surfactants, or solutions, are toxic on their own," Bonzongo said. "And others become toxic in the presence of carbon nanotubes."

He and Zeigler are focusing their investigations on solutions that become hazardous when mixed with the carbon nanotubes. Their most recent results indicate that toxicity can be reduced by controlling the ratio of liquid to particulate.

A cost-effective means of unbundling nanotubes remains one of the last hurdles for manufacturers to clear before they can employ the technology in mass-produced electronics. Current processes used for laboratory prototypes, including mechanical homogenization or centrifugal sifting, would be too expensive for manufacturing consumer electronics. For that reason, liquid suspension agents may be the way forward if we are to have nano-tech products for the masses.

"It's an emerging technology," Bonzongo said. "We want to get ahead of it and make sure that the progress is sustainable -- in terms of the environment and human health."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida. The original article was written by Donna Hesterman. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sejin Youn, Randy Wang, Jie Gao, Anna Hovespyan, Kirk J. Ziegler, Jean-Claude J. Bonzongo, Gabriel Bitton. Mitigation of the impact of single-walled carbon nanotubes on a freshwater green algae:Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata. Nanotoxicology, 2012; 6 (2): 161 DOI: 10.3109/17435390.2011.562329

Cite This Page:

University of Florida. "Designing consumer electronics to minimize environmental impact of future electronic waste." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120321162455.htm>.
University of Florida. (2012, March 21). Designing consumer electronics to minimize environmental impact of future electronic waste. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120321162455.htm
University of Florida. "Designing consumer electronics to minimize environmental impact of future electronic waste." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120321162455.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins