Nanomaterial Disposal by Incineration
Holder, Amara L.
Vejerano, Eric P.
Marr, Linsey C.
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As nanotechnology-based products enter into widespread use, nanomaterials will end up in disposal waste streams that are ultimately discharged to the environment. One possible end-of-life scenario is incineration. This review attempts to ascertain the potential pathways by which nanomaterials may enter incinerator waste streams and the fate of these nanomaterials during the incineration process. Although the literature on incineration of nanomaterials is scarce, results from studies of their behavior at high temperature or in combustion environments for other applications can help predict their fate within an incinerator. Preliminary evidence suggests nanomaterials may catalyze the formation or destruction of combustion by-products. Depending on their composition, nanomaterials may undergo physical and chemical transformations within the incinerator, impacting their partitioning within the incineration system (e.g., bottom ash, fly ash) and the effectiveness of control technology for removing them. These transformations may also drastically affect nanomaterial transport and impacts in the environment. Current regulations on incinerator emissions do not specifically address nanomaterials, but limits on particle and metal emissions may prove somewhat effective at reducing the release of nanomaterials in incinerator effluent. Control technology used to meet these regulations, such as fabric filters, electrostatic precipitators, and wet electrostatic scrubbers, are expected to be at least partially effective at removing nanomaterials from incinerator flue gas.