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Modeling the flows of engineered nanomaterials during waste handling
Link to Journal Abstract
Little is known about the behavior of engineered nanomaterials (ENM) at the interface from the technosphere to the ecosphere. Previous modeling of ENM flows to the environment revealed that significant amounts of ENM enter the waste stream and therefore waste incineration plants and landfills. It is the aim of this study to model the flows of ENM during waste incineration and landfilling in greater depth by including a more detailed description of the different processes and considering ENM-specific transformation reactions. Four substances were modeled: nano-TiO2, nano-ZnO, nano-Ag and carbon nanotube (CNT). These ENM are representative for commonly used materials and products, illustrating a variety of ENM with different behavior. The modeling was performed for Switzerland where almost 100% of the municipal waste and sewage sludge are burned. The mass-based modeling showed that – despite several differences among the models for nano-TiO2, nano-ZnO and nano-Ag (e.g. partial dissolution of nano-ZnO in acid washing of exhaust air or fly ash) – the major ENM flows go from the waste incineration plant to the landfill as bottom ash. All other flows within the system boundary (e.g. with the fly ash) were predicted to be about one magnitude smaller than the bottom ash flow. A different ENM distribution was found for CNTs that are expected to burn to a large extent (94%) so that only insignificant amounts remain in the system. The results of the modeling show that waste incineration can have a strong influence on some ENM but that still the majority of the ENM-mass is expected to end up in landfills.
It was the aim of this study to model the flows of engineered nanomaterials (ENM) during waste incineration and landfilling in greater depth by including a more detailed description of the different processes and considering ENM-specific transformation reactions. Four substances were modeled: nano-TiO2, nano-ZnO, nano-Ag and carbon nanotube (CNT).
Peer Reviewed Journal Article
Exposure Or Hazard Target
Method Of Study
Computational and System Modeling
Environmental Fate and Transport
Risk Exposure Group
Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 15(1): 251-259 (January 2013)
Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts
Mueller NC, Buha J, Wang J, Ulrich A, Nowack B
Last updated on April 16, 2013
This work is supported in part by the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Initiative of the National Science Foundation
under NSF Award Number EEC-0118007.
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