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Analysis techniques for quantifying nano-and microplastic particles and their degradation in the marine environment (ANDROMEDA)

In ANDROMEDA, a combination of advanced techniques, such as µFTIR, Raman and SEM-EDX, should be optimized and used for characterization and quantification of microplastics and nanoplastics in the order of 1 µm, 0.2 µm and less. Particular focus will be given to types of MP that are challenging to detect, such as microfibers, paint flakes and tire wear particles.

Project details

Status: Ongoing

Project period: 2020–2023

Principal: Research Council of Norway (RCN) (311313)

Coordinating institution: NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research

Methods for analyzing microplastics (MP) can be roughly divided into two categories; simple and budget friendly or more advanced and costly. Common to all existing methods is that they still require more development and validation. There is a need for cheap and fast methods for identifying a broad spectrum of MP with acceptable accuracy, but also advanced methods that can handle the detection of small MP and nanoplastics (NP) of various polymer types in environmental samples. In ANDROMEDA, a combination of advanced techniques, such as µFTIR, Raman and SEM-EDX, should be optimized and used for characterization and quantification of MP and NP in the order of 1 µm, 0.2 µm and less. Particular focus will be given to types of MP that are challenging to detect, such as microfibers, paint flakes and tire wear particles.

Chemical, biological and physical influences and degradation of plastics in the environment will exacerbate the challenges of detection of the plastic. A large part of the project is therefore dedicated to methodology and application of methods for accelerated degradation of plastics in the laboratory. UV (sunlight), hydrolysis and thermal oxidation will be used for this purpose to obtain realistic plastic fragments and partially degraded materials for further testing in the project. Specific focus will be given to understanding the mechanisms of UV and microbial degradation of plastics while looking at how these are affected by temperature, pH and high pressure. In addition, leakage of chemicals from the plastic will be considered under these conditions.

A central theme of the project will be quality assurance. Project partners specializing in communication, dissemination and data management will ensure strong involvement of stakeholder groups and effective dissemination of project results.