The assessment of the toxicity of airborne nanofibers is an important task. It relies on toxicological inhalation studies and validated exposure measurement techniques. Both require nanofiber-containing aerosols of known morphological composition and controlled fraction of individual fibers. Here, a dry powder dispersion method is presented that operates with mixtures of nanofibers and microscale beads. Aerosolization experiments of mixtures of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and glass beads that were continuously fed into a Venturi nozzle enabled high generation rates of aerosols composed of individual and agglomerate nanofiber structures. The aerosol process achieved good stability over more than 2 h with respect to concentration and aerodynamic size distribution. Its operation duration is limited only by the reservoir volume of the cyclone used to separate the beads from the aerosol. The aerosol concentration can be controlled by changing the mass ratio of MWCNTs and glass beads or by adapting the mass feed rate to the nozzle. For two agglomerated MWCNT materials, aerosol concentrations ranged from 1700 to 64,000 nano-objects per cm³. Comprehensive scanning electron microscope analysis of filter samples was performed to categorize and determine the morphological composition of the aerosol, its fiber content as well as fiber length and diameter distributions. High fractions of individual fibers of up to 34% were obtained, which shows the setup to be capable of dispersing also highly tangled MWCNT agglomerates effectively.
This article is published in the Journal "Journal of Nanoparticle Research" (2018) 20:154.
B. K. Simonow, D. Wenzlaff, A. Meyer-Plath, N. Dziurowitz, C. Thim, J. Thiel, M. Jandy, S. Plitzko:
Continuous dry dispersion of multi-walled carbon nanotubes to aerosols with high concentrations of individual fibers.
in: Journal of Nanoparticle Research, Volume 20, Art.154 2018. pages 1-17, Project number: F 2337, DOI: 10.1007/s11051-018-4262-y