Caroline Akinyi, University of Cincinnati environmental engineering master’s student, presented her research titled “Thermal Degradation of Carbon Nanotube Polymer Composites” at the American Chemical Society Sept. 8-12.
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and carbon nanofibers have unique qualities such as high thermal and electrical conductivities, high tensile strengths, and large aspect ratios. According to Akinyi, CNTs and carbon nanofibers are being used to reinforce polymers so that they exhibit one or more of these qualities.
Akinyi’s study focuses on the potential release of harmful elements during accidental fires and high temperature treatment (recycling) of CNT composites of Poly(Bisphenol A) carbonate and Polyamide 6.
“As with the advent of any new material, a concern arises on the public health effects of the materials during their life cycle,” she said. “Carbon nanotubes and nanofibers are tiny and cylindrical or cone shaped as such posing potential harm if inhaled as they could penetrate the walls of the respiratory system.” Akinyi says studies on the toxicity of carbon nanotubes are still being conducted.
Akinyi, a native of Kenya, says she choose UC for its excellent environmental engineering program and because “it will equip me to be effective in my future career.”
She received her bachelor’s degree in physics, with minors in business and mathematics, at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduation, she plans to relocate back to Africa to work with a company that seeks to address environmental problems.