Technological watch

Production and Characterization of Polyethylene Terephthalate Nanoparticles

Microplastic (MP) pollution represents one of the biggest environmental problems that is further exacerbated by the continuous degradation in the marine environment of MPs to nanoplastics (NPs). The most diffuse plastics in oceans are commodity polymers, mainly thermoplastics widely used for packaging, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). However, the huge interest in the chemical vector role of micro/nanoplastics, their fate and negative effects on the environment and human health is still under discussion and the research is still sparse due also to the difficulties of sampling MPs and NPs from the environment or producing NPs in laboratory. Moreover, the research on MPs and NPs pollution relies on the availability of engineered nanoparticles similar to those present in the marine environment for toxicological, transport and adsorption studies in biological tissues as well as for wastewater remediation studies. This work aims to develop an easy, fast and scalable procedure for the production of representative model nanoplastics from PET pellets. The proposed method, based on a simple and economic milling process, has been optimized considering the peculiarities of the polymer. The results demonstrated the reliability of the method for preparing particle suspensions for aquatic microplastic research, with evident advantages compared to the present literature procedures, such as low cost, the absence of liquid nitrogen, the short production time, the high yield of the process, stability, reproducibility and polydisperse size distribution of the produced water dispersed nanometric PET.

Publication date: 29/10/2021

Author: Francesca Lionetto

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym13213745

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.