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Reconstructing the Environmental Degradation of Polystyrene by Accelerated Weathering

Title data

Meides, Nora ; Menzel, Teresa ; Pötzschner, Björn ; Löder, Martin G. J. ; Mansfeld, Ulrich ; Strohriegl, Peter ; Altstädt, Volker ; Senker, Jürgen:
Reconstructing the Environmental Degradation of Polystyrene by Accelerated Weathering.
In: Environmental Science & Technology. Vol. 55 (21 May 2021) .
ISSN 0013-936X
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c07718

Official URL: Volltext

Project information

Project title:
Project's official titleProject's id
SFB 1357 MikroplastikSFB1357

Project financing: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Abstract in another language

The fragmentation of macro- into microplastics (MP) is the main source of MP in the environment. Nevertheless, knowledge about degradation mechanisms, changes in chemical composition, morphology, and residence times is still limited. Here, we present a long-term accelerated weathering study on polystyrene (PS) tensile bars and MP particles using simulated solar radiation and mechanical stress. The degradation process was monitored by gel permeation chromatography (GPC), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX), 13C magic-angle spinning (MAS) NMR spectroscopy, tensile testing, and Monte Carlo simulations. We verified that degradation proceeds in two main stages. Stage I is dominated by photooxidation in a near-surface layer. During stage II, microcrack formation and particle rupturing accelerate the degradation. Depending on the ratio and intensity of the applied stress factors, MP degradation kinetics and lifetimes vary dramatically and an increasing amount of small MP fragments with high proportions of carboxyl, peroxide, and keto groups is continuously released into the environment. The enhanced surface area for adsorbing pollutants and forming biofilms modifies the uptake behavior and interaction with organisms together with potential ecological risks. We expect the proposed two-stage model to be valid for predicting the abiotic degradation of other commodity plastics with a carbon–carbon backbone.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: microplastics; polymer degradation; photooxidation; two-stage degradation model; quantitative 13C MAS NMR spectroscopy; Monte Carlo simulations; microcrack formation; particle fragmentation
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I > Chair Animal Ecology I - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Chemistry
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Chemistry > Chair Inorganic Chemistry III
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Chemistry > Chair Inorganic Chemistry III > Chair Inorganic Chemistry III - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Senker
Faculties > Faculty of Engineering Science
Faculties > Faculty of Engineering Science > Chair Polymer Materials
Faculties > Faculty of Engineering Science > Chair Polymer Materials > Chair Polymer Materials - Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Ruckdäschel
Profile Fields > Advanced Fields > Polymer and Colloid Science
Profile Fields > Advanced Fields > Ecology and the Environmental Sciences
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Research Institutions > Affiliated Institutes > Bavarian Polymer Institute (BPI)
Research Institutions > Collaborative Research Centers, Research Unit > SFB 1357 - MIKROPLASTIK
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 500 Natural sciences
500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 540 Chemistry
500 Science > 570 Life sciences, biology
600 Technology, medicine, applied sciences > 620 Engineering
Date Deposited: 26 May 2021 06:22
Last Modified: 26 May 2021 06:25
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/65332