Effect of Carbon Nanotubes Upon Emissions From Cutting and Sanding Carbon Fiber-Epoxy Composites
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Effect of Carbon Nanotubes Upon Emissions From Cutting and Sanding Carbon Fiber-Epoxy Composites

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Nanopart Res
  • Description:
    Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being incorporated into structural composites to enhance material strength. During fabrication or repair activities, machining nanocomposites may release CNTs into the workplace air. An experimental study was conducted to evaluate the emissions generated by cutting and sanding on three types of epoxy-composite panels: Panel A containing graphite fibers, Panel B containing graphite fibers and carbon-based mat, and Panel C containing graphite fibers, carbon-based mat, and multi-walled CNTs. Aerosol sampling was conducted with direct-reading instruments, and filter samples were collected for measuring elemental carbon (EC) and fiber concentrations. Our study results showed that cutting Panel C with a band saw did not generate detectable emissions of fibers inspected by transmission electron microscopy but did increase the particle mass, number, and EC emission concentrations by 20% to 80% compared to Panels A and B. Sanding operation performed on two Panel C resulted in fiber emission rates of 1.9×10(8) and 2.8×10(6) fibers per second (f/s), while no free aerosol fibers were detected from sanding Panels A and B containing no CNTs. These free CNT fibers may be a health concern. However, the analysis of particle and EC concentrations from these same samples cannot clearly indicate the presence of CNTs, because extraneous aerosol generation from machining the composite epoxy material increased the mass concentrations of the EC.
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