Packaging vertically aligned carbon nanotubes into a heat-shrink tubing for efficient removal of phenolic pollutants†
Owing to their extremely high surface-to-volume ratio, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are excellent adsorbents for the removal of organic pollutants. However, retrieval or collection of the CNTs after adsorption in existing approaches, which utilize CNTs dispersed in a solution of pollutants, is often more challenging than the removal of pollutants. In this study, we address this challenge by packaging vertically aligned CNTs into a PTFE heat-shrink tubing. Insertion of CNTs into the tubing and subsequent thermal shrinkage densified the CNTs radially by 35% and also reduced wrinkles in the nanotubes. The CNT-based adsorption tube with a circular cross-section enabled both easy functionalization of CNTs and facile connection to a source of polluted water, which we demonstrated for the removal of phenolic compounds. We purified and carboxylated CNTs, by flowing a solution of nitric acid through the tubing, and obtained adsorption capacities of 115, 124, and 81.2 mg g−1 for 0.5 g L−1 of phenol, m-cresol, 2-chlorophenol, respectively. We attribute the high adsorption capacity of our platform to efficient adsorbate-CNT interaction within the narrow interstitial channels between the aligned nanotubes. The CNT-based adsorption tubes are highly promising for the simple and efficient removal of phenolic and other types of organic pollutants.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Where will cleaner H2O spring from?