Cars running on diesel fuel spew out deadly gases and suspended particulate matter into atmosphere. The mixture of gases contains a host of harmful chemicals. Diesel exhaust has been shown to be a probable human carcinogen. Now, a Japanese research team has invented a way to turn diesel-derived black particles into eco-friendly matters. The research team from Yokohama City University and Nissan Arc. Ltd has not only developed a technique to collect diesel soot but also a method to use the soot as a precursor for the synthesis of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs).
First, the research team collected diesel soot from the engines of an electric generator and a vessel using the technique developed by them. The diesel engine generates particulate matter, which is trapped on ceramic filters in the exhaust pipe. The researchers employed ultrasonic washing to separate particles from the filters. The main ingredients of particulate matter are soot, organic parts, and other chemicals. Then the diesel soot was collected using a special method called Soxhlet extraction. The recycled diesel soot underwent laser vaporization to churn out carbon nanotubes.
It is possible to get diesel fuel from extracted organic components. Closer inspection revealed that diesel soot contains fullerenes, large molecules entirely comprising sixty to seventy carbon atoms. Fullerenes are though to be produced during combustion of light or heavy oil. One of the interesting features of the diesel soot-derived carbon nanotubes is that they are smaller in diameter than the ones produced from graphite.
For the moment, the researchers did not decipher the details of toxic chemicals of diesel soot. But, they say that laser vaporization might have destroyed almost all toxic chemicals present in diesel soot. Other researches have shown the efficacy of carbon nanotubes’ ability to clean environment. A recently published study showing fullerenes (building blocks of carbon nanotubes) to be non-toxic, we may be heading for a cleaner environment riding on a revolution to be ushered in by carbon nanotubes.