Microscopy based detection and analysis of carbon nanotubes in consumer sport equipment

K. Scott, C. Marvel, S. Stranick
National Institute of Standards and Technology, US

Keywords: nanocomposite, CNT, nanotubes, microscopy


Polymer nanocomposites are increasingly used in consumer products. Although much work has been done in developing and characterizing the nanocomposite materials and raw nanofillers (e.g., nanotubes, nanoparticles and nanofibers), characterization and lifecycle studies of nanocomposites in their product condition have received limited attention. We examined two different types of commercially available baseball bats that incorporate CNT-polymer nanocomposites in their structures. Microscopy techniques were used to characterize the CNTs in the bat and in the release fragments from two different use scenarios. The normal use scenario included abrasion of the bat surface, simulating normal wear and tear. The recycle/disposal scenario included sawing and ripping the bat pieces. The cross-sectional samples of the bats were used to identify the locations of CNT nanocomposites and confirm the presence of CNTs in these materials. The surface conditions of the bats and the release fragments from the different use scenarios are examined for the particle size distribution, morphology and presence of loose or exposed CNTs. Several types of nano-sized particles and fibers, some of which showed morphology consistent with polymer coated CNTs were detected at a very low level. Further study to characterize and quantify the nano-sized debris from the disposal scenario is in progress.