Fate and Transformation of C60 Nanoparticles in Water Treatment Processes

EPA Grant Number: R832526
Title: Fate and Transformation of C60 Nanoparticles in Water Treatment Processes
Investigators: Kim, Jae Hyung , Hughes, Joseph
Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 1, 2005 through December 31, 2008
Project Amount: $375,000
RFA: Exploratory Research: Nanotechnology Research Grants Investigating Environmental and Human Health Effects of Manufactured Nanomaterials: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, NSF, NIOSH (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health , Safer Chemicals , Nanotechnology


The environmental impact of carbon fullerenes is of great concern due to projections for bulk production in near future and the recent discovery that they form nano-scale water-stable aggregates upon release to water. Understanding the fate and the transformations of carbon fullerenes during water treatment, currently our first line of defense against ingestion pathways, is of particular importance. Human exposure to these materials via water ingestion will be strongly influenced by the behavior of these aggregates in potable water treatment systems.


The objective of the proposed research is to examine the response of water-stable fullerene aggregates, to processes that are used in potable water treatment, using C60 and its stable aggregate, nano-C60, as a model compound. More specifically, the proposed project will test the following hypotheses:

  1. nano-C60 with electron-rich surface will undergo chemical transformation through addition of oxygen or chlorine atom and/or charge destabilization when subject to oxidation by commonly used oxidants and disinfectants such as ozone, UV light, free chlorine and monochloramine,
  2. a unique weakly negatively charged surface of nano-C60 will lead to unique electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions with metal hydroxide soluble complexes and precipitates, with polymeric membrane surfaces, and with hydrophobic surfaces of activated carbon,
  3. and the size characteristics of nano-C60 will lead to unique filtration characteristics when filtered through nano-porous membranes and unique adsorption kinetics/equilibrium characteristics when adsorbed by activated carbons with varying pore size distributions.

Expected Results:

The outcome of the proposed research will provide basic, fundamental, yet practical knowledge in chemical and physical behavior of this nano-material during commonly practiced engineered processes. New information such as colloidal stability, chemical reaction kinetics, reaction product identity, transport behavior, and adsorptive characteristics will advance scientific knowledge in use, disposal, and treatment of this growing class of materials and will trigger additional research on water treatment technologies and facilitate appropriate toxicological studies.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 20 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 10 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

fullerene, nano-C60, water treatment, coagulation, ozonation, UV irradiation, chlorination, chloramination, membrane, activated carbon adsorption, kinetics, product identity,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, Water, Environmental Chemistry, Health Risk Assessment, Risk Assessments, Biochemistry, Physical Processes, Drinking Water, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, fate and transport, health effects, human health effects, carbon fullerene, epidemelogy, exposure, nanotechnology, other - risk assessment, particle exposure, community water system, ambient particle health effects, human exposure, engineered nanomaterials, toxicity, nanomaterials, water quality, cellular responses, drinking water contaminants, biochemical research, human health risk, drinking water system

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006 Progress Report
  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008
  • Final Report