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Sustainable porous 2D Membranes and 3D Sponges for the Removal and Detection of Micro- and Nano-plastics

Registration number:LUABA22043

Realization period:01.07. 2022 – 31.12. 2024

Leader at TUL:prof. Dr. Ing. Miroslav Černík, CSc.

Today, the world is facing a critical problem of plastics and microplastics in waters. The severity of water pollution varies in different parts of the world, but concerns about its impact on ecosystems, health and the economy are similar. The problem is not only the quantity of these pollutants, but also their detection and, above all, their removal from the environment, water, soil and air. The aim of the project is to prepare 2D porous membranes and 3D sponge-like structures with open pores for very efficient detection and removal of microplastics and nanoplastics from the environment by filtration and adsorption. The problem of their detection and removal is complicated by the fact that due to their interaction with other substances, their surface modifications and the influencing of UV radiation, their surface is electrically charged. Therefore, filters to capture (and detect) microplastics them must be able to vary the surface charge, which increases their efficiency. MXenes compounds (2D carbides and nitrides of transition elements) combine the electrical conductivity of metals and a hydrophilic surface, given by oxygen functional groups on their surface. For their applications in environmental technologies, the hydrophilicity of the surface is exploited to bind other substances ranging from small molecules to polymers, thereby modifying the functionality of their surface. In our case, we will create nanocomposites of MXenes compounds with tree gum polysaccharides. These natural materials have similar oxygen functional groups (-COOH, -OH, -CO and -COCH3) and are also hydrophilic. The Mxenes/gum nanocomposites formed by chemical crosslinking will be used for the removal (adsorption/separation) and detection of micro- and nano-plastics in the environment. For this application, the possibility of controlling both the structure of the nanocomposite and especially its surface properties, including surface charge distribution, will be exploited. The proposed collaborative project consists in performing basic studies on porous hierarchically structured low-density 2D membranes and 3D sponge-like structures prepared either by electrospinning or lyophilization methods. The project aims to use them as filters for efficient detection of micro- and nano-plastics by SERS (Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy) and their subsequent removal. 2D membranes will be studied for physical filtration and detection of micro- and nano-plastics, while 3D sponges with very high pore volume are very promising for adhesive filtration/adsorption.

General partners

Škoda AUTO
Česká Zbrojovka
FM Motol
UJV Group