Complex interplay between formation routes and natural organic matter modification controls capabilities of C60 nanoparticles (nC60) to accumulate organic contaminants

Lei Hou , John D. Fortner , Ximeng Wang , Chengdong Zhang , Lilin Wang , Wei Chen


Received April 07, 2016,Revised July 24, 2016, Accepted July 29, 2016, Available online August 11, 2016

Volume 29,2017,Pages 315-323

Accumulation of organic contaminants on fullerene nanoparticles (nC60) may significantly affect the risks of C60 in the environment. The objective of this study was to further understand how the interplay of nC60 formation routes and humic acid modification affects contaminant adsorption of nC60. Specifically, adsorption of 1,2,4,5-tetrachlorobenzene (a model nonionic, hydrophobic organic contaminant) on nC60 was greatly affected by nC60 formation route – the formation route significantly affected the aggregation properties of nC60, thus affecting the available surface area and the extent of adsorption via the pore-filling mechanism. Depending on whether nC60 was formed via the “top-down” route (i.e., sonicating C60 powder in aqueous solution) or “bottom-up” route (i.e., phase transfer from an organic solvent) and the type of solvent involved (toluene versus tetrahydrofuran), modification of nC60 with Suwannee River humic acid (SRHA) could either enhance or inhibit the adsorption affinity of nC60. The net effect depended on the specific way in which SRHA interacted with C60 monomers and/or C60 aggregates of different sizes and morphology, which determined the relative importance of enhanced adsorption from SRHA modification via preventing C60 aggregation and inhibited adsorption through blocking available adsorption sites. The findings further demonstrate the complex mechanisms controlling interactions between nC60 and organic contaminants, and may have significant implications for the life-cycle analysis and risk assessment of C60.

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