The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Default user image.

Monica Kåredal


Default user image.

Release of carbon nanotubes during combustion of polymer nanocomposites in a pilot-scale facility for waste incineration


  • Sara Janhäll
  • Mikaela Petersson
  • Kent Davidsson
  • Tommy Öman
  • Jens Sommertune
  • Monica Kåredal
  • Maria E. Messing
  • Jenny Rissler

Summary, in English

Nanocomposites, formed by incorporating nanoparticles into a matrix of standard materials, are increasing on the market. Little focus has been directed towards safe disposal and recycling of these new materials even though the disposal has been identified as a phase of the products' life cycle with a high risk of uncontrolled emissions of nanomaterials. In this study, we investigate if the carbon nanotubes (CNTs), when used as a filler in two types of polymers, are fully destructed in a pilot-scale combustion unit designed to mimic the combustion under waste incineration. The two polymer nanocomposites studied, polycarbonate (PC) with CNT and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with CNT, were incinerated at two temperatures where the lower temperature just about fulfilled the European waste incineration directive while the upper was chosen to be on the safe side of fulfilling the directive. Particles in the flue gas were sampled and analysed with online and offline instrumentation along with samples of the bottom ash. CNTs could be identified in the flue gas in all experiments, although present to a greater extent when the CNTs were introduced in PC as compared to in HDPE. In the case of using PC as polymer matrix, CNTs were identified in 3–10% of the analysed SEM images while for HDPE in only ~0.5% of the images. In the case of PC, the presence of CNTs decreased with increasing bed temperature (from 10% to 3% of the images). The CNTs identified were always in bundles, often coated with remnants of the polymer, forming particles of ~1–4 μm in diameter. No CNTs were identified in the bottom ash, likely explained by the difference in time when the bottom ash and fly ash are exposed to high temperatures (~hours compared to seconds) in the pilot facility. The results suggest that the residence time of the fly ash in the combustion zone is not long enough to allow full oxidation of the CNTs. Thus, the current regulation on waste incineration (requiring a residence time of the flue gas >850 °C during at least 2 s) may not be enough to obtain complete destruction of CNTs in polymer composites. Since several types of CNTs are known to be toxic, we stress the need for further investigation of the fate and toxicity of CNTs in waste treatment processes.


  • Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University
  • NanoLund: Center for Nanoscience
  • Solid State Physics
  • Synchrotron Radiation Research
  • Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology

Publishing year








Document type

Journal article




  • Energy Engineering
  • Nano Technology


  • CNT
  • Fly ash
  • Nanocomposites
  • Particle
  • Polymer
  • Waste incineration




  • ISSN: 2452-0748