Investigating the formation, presence, and distribution of nanoplastics in aquatic environments


The Project

Troubling images, showcasing the large amount of plastic litter that contaminates our waters and threatens wildlife, have become a regular focus of the popular media. Not everyone realizes that we cannot account for a very large fraction of the plastic that escapes into the ocean. A significant portion of this “missing plastic” is hypothesized to result from the degradation of plastics and are named nanoplastics. A multidisciplinary team will now use a breakthrough approach to investigate the formation, presence, and distribution of nanoplastics in aquatic environments. We will study size, structure, and composition of nanoplastics, their transport across the ocean, as well as their interplay with and impact on the Earth’s aquatic microbiome. The reactivity of nanoplastics will also be assessed, allowing to investigate potential degradation pathways, including those involving microbial interactions.

The Nanoplastics: Origin, Structure and Fate project is funded through an NWO ENW Groot grant.


The Team

Bert Weckhuysen

Professor
@ Utrecht University

Bert is PI of the project and expert in catalysis chemistry

Linda Amaral-Zettler

Professor
@ NIOZ and UvA

Linda is Co-PI of the project and expert in microbiology

Erik van Sebille

Associate Professor
@ Utrecht University

Erik is Co-PI of the project and expert in Lagrangian Ocean Analysis

Irene Groot

Associate Professor
@ Leiden University

Irene is Co-PI of the project and expert in surface science and microscopy

Florian Meirer

Associate Professor
@ Utrecht University

Florian is Co-PI of the project and expert in spectro-microscopy

Jelle Kranenborg

PhD researcher
@ Utrecht University

Jelle works on the detection and characterization of nanoplastics

Claudio Pierard

PhD researcher
@ Utrecht University

Claudio investigates the transport of nanoplastics in our ocean

Tycho Roorda

PhD researcher
@ Leiden University

Tycho works on structural and chemical characterization of nanoplastics at atomic scale


Associated Projects