NWO ENW Open Competition Groot grant for the Weckhuysen group

Bert Weckhuysen (as main applicant) and Florian Meirer have received and ENW Open Competiton Groot grant for their project entitled “Nanoplastics: Origin, Structure and Fate” in collaboration with Utrecht University researcher of physical oceanography, Erik van Sebille, NIOZ-University of Amsterdam-affiliated microbial ecologist, Linda Amaral – Zettler and Irene Groot, a chemist studying heterogeneous catalyst with operando methodologies, from Leiden University. This multidisciplinary consortium has received 2.5 million euros to investigate the formation, presence, and distribution of nanoplastics in aquatic environments using high-tech, state-of-the-art methodologies in a 5-year project.

Nanoplastics: Origin, Structure and Fate
Bert Weckhuysen (co-applicants: Erik van Sebille, Florian Meirer, Linda Amaral-Zettler and Irene Groot)

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. They 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.

Source: website Utrecht University