GEO2 Technologies is in the business of developing novel ceramic filters for diesel particulate filtration. As I wrote earlier, soot is a terrible thing in the atmosphere for health and environment reasons. Hence, it is important to deploy the of filter systems that GEO2 enables to block soot emissions from internal combustion engines.
But what is done with the soot when it has been captured inside the filter? The current process is to burn it (also called regeneration of the filter) which leads to a complete combustion of the carbon component of the soot into CO2 and water. Yes, it adds CO2 to the environment but at least the toxic particulate emissions are curtailed.
Now there is news about converting this soot into potentially lucrative single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) using laser vaporization methods. Carbon nanotubes, ofcourse are a relatively recent discovery and are expected to revolutionize electronics, sensors, medical and other industries. Is this the best way to make SWCNTs? Who knows? I do remember from my junior year thesis that fullerenes (C60 carbon) was also discovered as a byproduct in a similar type of process. That eventually led to the the awarding of Nobel prize to Curl, Kroto and Smalley. We will find more about this proces sin the years to come but the creation of SWCNT is certainly a hot area of research. This new idea at least provides a cheap raw material (process waste) in the production of SWCNTs. I am not sure if this is real in any commercial sort of way. Sounds like science for science sake. Interesting, nevertheless….
Green Nanotechnology – Turning Diesel Soot Into Carbon Nanotubes
Author: Michael Berger
Researchers from Yokohama City University in Japan and Nissan Arc, Ltd., a Japanese company that researches organic and inorganic materials and their composites, have developed a method for recycling soot from diesel-burning engines as carbon source for fabricating single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). The researchers used a technique developed by Tetsuro Nishimoto of Juon Co. Ltd, a Japanese company specializing in environmental equipment, to extract soot and soluble organic fractions (SOF) from particulate exhaust matter collected on ceramic filters installed in the exhaust pipe of an electric generator with diesel engines. The researchers then used the recycled soot to synthesize SWCNTs through a technique called laser vaporization. In addition, the SOF that was also extracted from the particulate matter can be recycled as diesel fuel. The researchers also found a variety of carbon fullerenes in the diesel soot. The researchers have not studied in detail the behavior of toxic chemicals in diesel soot, but they believe that most toxic chemicals are destroyed during laser vaporization. The researchers also hope that diesel soot can be recycled and modified for applications in electrodes for fuel cells and gas storage materials. The article can be viewed online at the link below.