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.
Bert is PI of the project and expert in catalysis chemistry
Linda is Co-PI of the project and expert in microbiology
Erik is Co-PI of the project and expert in Lagrangian Ocean Analysis
Irene is Co-PI of the project and expert in surface science and microscopy
Florian is Co-PI of the project and expert in spectro-microscopy
Jelle works on the detection and characterization of nanoplastics
Claudio investigates the transport of nanoplastics in our ocean
Tycho works on structural and chemical characterization of nanoplastics at atomic scale