Microplastics are recognized as an emerging critical issue for the environment. Here an innovative chemical approach for the treatment of microplastics is proposed, based on an oxidative process that does not require any direct energy source (irradiation or heat). Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) was selected as target commodity polymer, due to its widespread use, chemical inertness and inefficient recycling. This route is based on a hybrid material coupling titanium oxide with a bio-waste, rosin, mainly constituted by abietic acid, through a simple sol-gel synthesis procedure. The ligand-to-metal charge transfer complexes formed between rosin and Ti4+ allow the generation of reactive oxygen species without UV irradiation for its activation. In agreement with theorical calculations, superoxide radical ions are stabilized at ambient conditions on the surface of the hybrid TiO2. Consequently, an impressive degradation of LLDPE is observed after 1 month exposure in a batch configuration under indirect daylight, as evidenced by the products revealed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis and by chemical and structural modifications of the polymer surface. In a context of waste exploitation, this innovative and sustainable approach represents a promising cost-effective strategy for the oxidative degradation of microplastics, without producing any toxic by-products.

Indirect daylight oxidative degradation of polyethylene microplastics by a bio-waste modified TiO2-based material

Ritacco I.;Santoriello G.;Caporaso L.
;
2024-01-01

Abstract

Microplastics are recognized as an emerging critical issue for the environment. Here an innovative chemical approach for the treatment of microplastics is proposed, based on an oxidative process that does not require any direct energy source (irradiation or heat). Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) was selected as target commodity polymer, due to its widespread use, chemical inertness and inefficient recycling. This route is based on a hybrid material coupling titanium oxide with a bio-waste, rosin, mainly constituted by abietic acid, through a simple sol-gel synthesis procedure. The ligand-to-metal charge transfer complexes formed between rosin and Ti4+ allow the generation of reactive oxygen species without UV irradiation for its activation. In agreement with theorical calculations, superoxide radical ions are stabilized at ambient conditions on the surface of the hybrid TiO2. Consequently, an impressive degradation of LLDPE is observed after 1 month exposure in a batch configuration under indirect daylight, as evidenced by the products revealed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis and by chemical and structural modifications of the polymer surface. In a context of waste exploitation, this innovative and sustainable approach represents a promising cost-effective strategy for the oxidative degradation of microplastics, without producing any toxic by-products.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4853734
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