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Old 30th Apr 2014, 10:56   #1
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Research warns of graphene's environmental impact

Particles highly mobile in surface water.
http://www.bit-tech.net/news/bits/20...-environment/1
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 11:03   #2
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Interesting, so they need to start running tests to see how it will effect living organisms before any widespread use in electronics. Somehow I don't see that happening, there is no money to be made in being responsible !
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 11:30   #3
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I'm failing to see how what is 100% carbon which has oxidised can be toxic to any carbon based life form, it might be possible for it to cause some other affect, suffocation perhaps but toxic? Unlikely.
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 11:33   #4
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Originally Posted by Spraduke View Post
I'm failing to see how what is 100% carbon which has oxidised can be toxic to any carbon based life form, it might be possible for it to cause some other affect, suffocation perhaps but toxic? Unlikely.
It's not the material itself, but its construction: graphene [allegedly] suffers from what is known as nanotoxicity. Try this paper from January for a detailed explanation.

Think of it like this: I could easily eat a chunk of asbestos with little ill-effect, but if small particles of it get airborne and I breathe 'em in then I'm in serious trouble.
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 11:35   #5
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It could pay to invest in research into its environmental impacts ahead of its wide scale use in case it is found to have some particularly damaging properties to the environment or human health which might affect how company mass produces and disposes of future devices. Could save them in the long run to know about these things in advance. Environmental disaster fines are something I would hope most companies are looking to avoid (by putting in correct safety and disposal procedures not by avoiding blame or prior knowledge)

Either way I think there is sometime before (even if) we see graphene make it into mass production. I am sure governments are willing to fund these kind of research projects as its easy to see what the potential benefit to society might be
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 11:45   #6
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I'm failing to see how what is 100% carbon which has oxidised can be toxic to any carbon based life form, it might be possible for it to cause some other affect, suffocation perhaps but toxic? Unlikely.
There are plenty oxides of carbon which are toxic (Carbon monoxide for example) which I guess would suffocate you but by the time it got to that concentration the toxic effect it has on your blood has already killed you. Anyway..

I think Gareth has pretty much got it. I could also see that small enough fragments of graphene or graphene oxide once inside you could interact with biomolecules in all sorts of ways, some of which could be toxic, it just isnt known.
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 12:32   #7
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I'm failing to see how what is 100% carbon which has oxidised can be toxic to any carbon based life form, it might be possible for it to cause some other affect, suffocation perhaps but toxic? Unlikely.
There are plenty oxides of carbon which are toxic (Carbon monoxide for example) which I guess would suffocate you but by the time it got to that concentration the toxic effect it has on your blood has already killed you. Anyway..

I think Gareth has pretty much got it. I could also see that small enough fragments of graphene or graphene oxide once inside you could interact with biomolecules in all sorts of ways, some of which could be toxic, it just isnt known.
Fair points, obviously carbon monoxide needs to be inhaled and I was primarily thinking ingestion / absorption by plant life. Scientific discovery is full of unexpected side effects (CFC's etc.) so it definitely pays to find out these things before the disaster!
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 18:57   #8
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Originally Posted by Spraduke View Post
I'm failing to see how what is 100% carbon which has oxidised can be toxic to any carbon based life form, it might be possible for it to cause some other affect, suffocation perhaps but toxic? Unlikely.
Anything made of carbon (say coal or charcoal for example) that has been oxidized to the monoxide form (CO) kills quite a number of people each year.
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Old 30th Apr 2014, 22:57   #9
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They use microsilver in toothpaste these days and it might have a bad effect on beneficial bacteria in nature.
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Old 1st May 2014, 08:52   #10
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They use microsilver in toothpaste these days and it might have a bad effect on beneficial bacteria in nature.
We have use all sorts of things that have caused harm in the past, like lead in petrol that made us all go a bit loopy, or radium in toothpaste, and how about when women ate arsenic to improve their complexion.
At least we are learning from past mistakes and researching the potential harm that could be done before wide spread use.
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Old 1st May 2014, 11:36   #11
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They use microsilver in toothpaste these days and it might have a bad effect on beneficial bacteria in nature.
We have use all sorts of things that have caused harm in the past, like lead in petrol that made us all go a bit loopy, or radium in toothpaste, and how about when women ate arsenic to improve their complexion.
At least we are learning from past mistakes and researching the potential harm that could be done before wide spread use.
Don't forget the barium suppositories!
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Old 1st May 2014, 14:11   #12
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Well at least they are willing to investigate the impact. Not what they did with the plastic that is killing all live as we speak.
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Old 1st May 2014, 15:08   #13
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It is as if current tech does not use poisonous stuff.
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Old 1st May 2014, 15:43   #14
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It is as if current tech does not use poisonous stuff.
Exactly. Graphene is negligible in toxicity compared to many other electronic materials. It is also VERY valuable and is used in relatively tiny quantities - I highly doubt it is going to end up polluting water sources in the next 20 years.

But the real point to get across is graphene has far more environmentally positive benefits than detriments. The most harmful thing about true molecular graphene is the processes to make it, which can involve high-power lasers and harsh acids. However, graphene has little to no shelf life and it is AMAZINGLY efficient compared to the materials it replaces. That means it wastes less energy and takes up less materials (and therefore less volume and less mass) to accomplish the same thing as it's counterparts.

In case anyone is wondering, graphene is known to be an INSANE supercapacitor, it can absorb solar energy, and the most mindblowing of all, it can absorb thermal energy. If that doesn't help improve the environment, I don't know what will.
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Old 1st May 2014, 18:41   #15
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It can absorb solar energy
But doesn't do anything useful with it yet.
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