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Concept: Polyethylene terephthalate

298

The occurrence of microplastics (MPs) in saltwater bodies is relatively well studied, but nothing is known about their presence in most of the commercial salts that are widely consumed by humans across the globe. Here, we extracted MP-like particles larger than 149 μm from 17 salt brands originating from 8 different countries followed by the identification of their polymer composition using micro-Raman spectroscopy. Microplastics were absent in one brand while others contained between 1 to 10 MPs/Kg of salt. Out of the 72 extracted particles, 41.6% were plastic polymers, 23.6% were pigments, 5.50% were amorphous carbon, and 29.1% remained unidentified. The particle size (mean ± SD) was 515 ± 171 μm. The most common plastic polymers were polypropylene (40.0%) and polyethylene (33.3%). Fragments were the primary form of MPs (63.8%) followed by filaments (25.6%) and films (10.6%). According to our results, the low level of anthropogenic particles intake from the salts (maximum 37 particles per individual per annum) warrants negligible health impacts. However, to better understand the health risks associated with salt consumption, further development in extraction protocols are needed to isolate anthropogenic particles smaller than 149 μm.

Concepts: Water, Polymer, Carbon, Plastic, Polypropylene, Polyethylene, Plasticizer, Polyethylene terephthalate

145

Plastics are synthetic polymers derived from fossil oil and largely resistant to biodegradation. Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) represent ∼92% of total plastic production. PE is largely utilized in packaging, representing ∼40% of total demand for plastic products (www.plasticseurope.org) with over a trillion plastic bags used every year [1]. Plastic production has increased exponentially in the past 50 years (Figure S1A in Supplemental Information, published with this article online). In the 27 EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland up to 38% of plastic is discarded in landfills, with the rest utilized for recycling (26%) and energy recovery (36%) via combustion (www.plasticseurope.org), carrying a heavy environmental impact. Therefore, new solutions for plastic degradation are urgently needed. We report the fast bio-degradation of PE by larvae of the wax moth Galleria mellonella, producing ethylene glycol.

Concepts: Petroleum, Polymer, Plastic, Polypropylene, Lepidoptera, Polyethylene, Moth, Polyethylene terephthalate

138

Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is used extensively worldwide in plastic products, and its accumulation in the environment has become a global concern. Because the ability to enzymatically degrade PET has been thought to be limited to a few fungal species, biodegradation is not yet a viable remediation or recycling strategy. By screening natural microbial communities exposed to PET in the environment, we isolated a novel bacterium, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, that is able to use PET as its major energy and carbon source. When grown on PET, this strain produces two enzymes capable of hydrolyzing PET and the reaction intermediate, mono(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalic acid. Both enzymes are required to enzymatically convert PET efficiently into its two environmentally benign monomers, terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol.

Concepts: Bacteria, Metabolism, Enzyme, Fungus, Natural environment, Acetic acid, Environmentalism, Polyethylene terephthalate

41

Nitrogen-based thermoset polymers have many industrial applications (for example, in composites), but are difficult to recycle or rework. We report a simple one-pot, low-temperature polycondensation between paraformaldehyde and 4,4'-oxydianiline (ODA) that forms hemiaminal dynamic covalent networks (HDCNs), which can further cyclize at high temperatures, producing poly(hexahydrotriazine)s (PHTs). Both materials are strong thermosetting polymers, and the PHTs exhibited very high Young’s moduli (up to ~14.0 gigapascals and up to 20 gigapascals when reinforced with surface-treated carbon nanotubes), excellent solvent resistance, and resistance to environmental stress cracking. However, both HDCNs and PHTs could be digested at low pH (<2) to recover the bisaniline monomers. By simply using different diamine monomers, the HDCN- and PHT-forming reactions afford extremely versatile materials platforms. For example, when poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) diamine monomers were used to form HDCNs, elastic organogels formed that exhibited self-healing properties.

Concepts: Polymer chemistry, Monomer, Plastic, Carbon fiber, Thermoplastic, Polyethylene terephthalate, Thermosetting plastics, Thermosetting polymer

40

Microplastics have been found in seas all over the world. We hypothesize that sea salts might contain microplastics because they are directly supplied by seawater. To test our hypothesis, we collected 15 brands of sea salts, lake salts and rock/well salts from supermarkets throughout China. The microplastics content was 550-681 particles/kg in sea salts, 43-364 particles/kg in lake salts and 7-204 particles/kg in rock/well salts. In sea salts, fragments and fibers were the prevalent types of particles compared with pellets and sheets. Microplastics measuring less than 200 μm represented the majority of the particles, accounting for 55% of the total microplastics, and the most common microplastics were polyethylene terephthalate, followed by polyethylene and cellophane in sea salts. The abundance of microplastics in sea salts was significantly higher than that in lake salts and rock salts. This result indicates that sea products, such as sea salts, are contaminated by microplastics. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on microplastic pollution in abiotic sea products.

Concepts: Scientific method, Observation, Acetic acid, Hypothesis, Sea, Null hypothesis, Polyethylene terephthalate, Caspian Sea

33

Conductive metal films are patterned into transparent metal nanowire networks by using electrospun fibers as a mask. Both the transmittance and sheet resistance (6 Ω/□ at 83% transmittance and 24 Ω/□ at 92% transmittance) of the metal nanowires based electrode out-perform commercial indium doped tin oxide (ITO) electrodes. The metal nanowire based transparent electrodes were fabricated on both rigid glass and flexible polyethylene terephthalate (PET) substrates. In addition to state of art performance, the transparent electrodes also exhibit outstanding toughness. They can withstand repeated scotch tape peeling and various bending tests. The method for making the metal nanowire is scalable and a touch screen on flexible substrate is demonstrated.

Concepts: Aluminium, Metal, Copper, Solar cell, Indium tin oxide, Electrolyte, Electrolysis, Polyethylene terephthalate

30

The Mediterranean Sea has been recently proposed as one of the most impacted regions of the world with regards to microplastics, however the polymeric composition of these floating particles is still largely unknown. Here we present the results of a large-scale survey of neustonic micro- and meso-plastics floating in Mediterranean waters, providing the first extensive characterization of their chemical identity as well as detailed information on their abundance and geographical distribution. All particles >700 μm collected in our samples were identified through FT-IR analysis (n = 4050 particles), shedding for the first time light on the polymeric diversity of this emerging pollutant. Sixteen different classes of synthetic materials were identified. Low-density polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene were the most abundant compounds, followed by polyamides, plastic-based paints, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene and polyvinyl alcohol. Less frequent polymers included polyethylene terephthalate, polyisoprene, poly(vinyl stearate), ethylene-vinyl acetate, polyepoxide, paraffin wax and polycaprolactone, a biodegradable polyester reported for the first time floating in off-shore waters. Geographical differences in sample composition were also observed, demonstrating sub-basin scale heterogeneity in plastics distribution and likely reflecting a complex interplay between pollution sources, sinks and residence times of different polymers at sea.

Concepts: Polymer, Plastic, Polypropylene, Plastics, Thermoplastic, Polyethylene terephthalate, Polymers, Thermoplastics

28

In this paper we explore the direct transfer via lamination of chemical vapor deposition graphene onto different flexible substrates. The transfer method investigated here is fast, simple, and does not require an intermediate transfer membrane, such as polymethylmethacrylate, which needs to be removed afterward. Various substrates of general interest in research and industry were studied in this work, including polytetrafluoroethylene filter membranes, PVC, cellulose nitrate/cellulose acetate filter membranes, polycarbonate, paraffin, polyethylene terephthalate, paper, and cloth. By comparing the properties of these substrates, two critical factors to ensure a successful transfer on bare substrates were identified: the substrate’s hydrophobicity and good contact between the substrate and graphene. For substrates that do not satisfy those requirements, polymethylmethacrylate can be used as a surface modifier or glue to ensure successful transfer. Our results can be applied to facilitate current processes and open up directions for applications of chemical vapor deposition graphene on flexible substrates. A broad range of applications can be envisioned, including fabrication of graphene devices for opto/organic electronics, graphene membranes for gas/liquid separation, and ubiquitous electronics with graphene.

Concepts: Acetic acid, Chemical vapor deposition, Paper, Plastics, Thermoplastic, Polyethylene terephthalate, Membrane, Thermoplastics

28

During its tenure in vivo, synthetic mesh materials are exposed to foreign body responses, which can alter physicochemical properties of the material. Three different synthetic meshes comprised of polypropylene, expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials were explanted from a single patient providing an opportunity to compare physicochemical changes between three different mesh materials in the same host. Results from infrared spectroscopy demonstrated significant oxidation in polypropylene mesh while ePTFE and PET showed slight chemical changes that may be caused by adherent scar tissue. Differential scanning calorimetry results showed a significant decrease in the heat of enthalpy and melt temperature in the polypropylene mesh while the ePTFE and PET showed little change. The presence of giant cells and plasma cells surrounding the ePTFE and PET were indicative of an active foreign body response. Scanning electron micrographs and photo micrographs displayed tissue entrapment and distortion of all three mesh materials.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Polymer, Thermodynamics, Polypropylene, Materials science, Scanning electron microscope, Plastics, Polyethylene terephthalate

28

In this study, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fabric was modified by applying a hydrophilic surface finishing agent that contains nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC). To impart superior hydrophilicity, NCC was further cationically modified through quaternization by grafting glycidyl tri-methyl ammonium chloride (GTMAC). A textile binder, PrintRite595(®), was added to the finishing system. The surface finish was applied on the fabric using a rolling-drying-curing process. The modified fabric was characterized in terms of coating durability, moisture regain, and wettability. The durability of the surface finish was tested by six repeated washing steps. The surface properties of the fabric changed from hydrophobic to hydrophilic after heat treatment with the NCC-containing surface finishing agent. The results from the washing fastness, SEM, FTIR, and EDX analyses confirmed that the cationic NCC-containing textile surface finish showed superior adhesion onto the cationic dyeable (anionic) PET surface over the un-modified NCC. Furthermore, the cationic textile surface finish was capable of withstanding multiple washing cycles.

Concepts: Cotton, Polyester, Textile, Polyethylene terephthalate, Textile manufacturing