Shape matters: Cr(VI) removal using iron nanoparticle impregnated 1-D vs 2-D carbon nanohybrids prepared by ultrasonic spray pyrolysis

  • Arvid Masud
  • Yanbin Cui
  • John D. Atkinson
  • Nirupam AichEmail author
Research Paper


Iron nanoparticles (Fe NPs) are used for treating water contaminated with metals or organic compounds. One-dimensional (1-D) carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and two-dimensional (2-D) graphenes act as useful nanocarbon (NC) supports for Fe NPs by resisting aggregation and enhancing adsorption and redox activity. However, no study showed how shape difference between tubular CNT and planar graphene structures dictates the physicochemical properties and pollutant removal potential of their iron-based nanohybrids. In this work, ultrasonic spray pyrolysis was used to continuously prepare Fe-CNT and Fe-rGO nanohybrids. Both NC shape and Fe/NC ratio influenced Fe NP size, loading, and oxidation states. High Fe content (precursor Fe/NC mass ratio = 2) resulted Fe NPs with diameters of 30.97 ± 7.00 and 24.11 ± 4.42 nm for Fe-CNT and Fe-rGO, respectively; however, low Fe content (Fe/NC = 0.2) provided more uniformly dispersed Fe NPs of 15.65 ± 3.06 and 9.67 ± 1.49 nm, respectively, while unsupported Fe NPs were 285.71 ± 132.42 nm. The USP-derived nanohybrids, for the first time, were used for removal of pollutant, i.e., chromium (Cr(VI)) from aqueous media. Both CNT and rGO provided synergistic effects to significantly enhance Fe NPs’ ability to remove Cr(VI); the effect was more pronounced in Fe-rGO than Fe-CNT and also for low Fe content in both cases. Fe-rGO with low Fe/NC ratio and smallest Fe NPs provided the highest Cr(VI) removal capacity (25 mg/g), which was a multifold improvement over bare Fe NPs and other synthesized nanohybrids (range 7–14 mg/g). Overall, 2-D rGO improved contaminant removal capacity of the nanohybrids more than 1-D CNT indicating towards shape effect of NC supports.

Graphical abstract


Carbon nanotubes Graphene oxide Nanocomposites Dimensionality Heavy metals Water purification Environmental applications 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11051_2018_4172_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.5 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1571 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental EngineeringUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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