INNOVATION: Nanocoating Technology Harnesses Sunlight to Degrade Microplastics.

25. February 2019 | Material | via

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

A research team at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) have developed an innovative nanocoating technology capable of degrading microplastics. Invisible yet utterly dangerous Microplastics are tiny particles, shards of degraded plastic trash, found in cosmetic products, and microfibers coming from synthetic fabric. As the name suggests, they are very small, ranging from the nanoscale up to around five millimeters.

Nowadays, scientists and engineers are fighting microplastics together using three major techniques, such as filtration, incineration, and advanced oxidation processes. The problem is that all three methods require very high energy and leave undesired byproducts.

The new technology developed as part of an EU Horizon 2020 funded project CLAIM (Cleaning Marine Litter by Developing and Applying Innovative Methods in European Seas) is a revolutionary step because it is relatively inexpensive and toxic-free. The CLAIM project is working on five marine cleaning technologies, from which the photocatalytic device is one.

The team published a study in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters. Professor Joydeep Dutta (KTH) summarizes the working of the technology: "Our study demonstrates rather positive results towards the effectiveness of breaking low-density polyethylene, with the help of our nanocoating under artificial sunlight. In practice, this means that once the coating is applied, microplastics will be degraded solely through the help of sunlight. The results provide new insights into the use of a clean technology for addressing the global microplastic pollution with reduced by-products."

Are Microplastics in Our Water Becoming a Macroproblem? (National Geographic)