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Determination of particles produced during boiling in differenz plastic and glas kettles via comparative dynamic image analysis using FlowCam®

Michael Toni Sturm, Katrin Schuhen , Wasser 3.0

Sven Kluczka, Anasysta e.K.


In many everyday products containing plastics, tiny plastic particles are generated by mechanical, thermal or other influences and are released into the environment by various transport routes. These particles not only have a long lifecycle, but can also only be degraded very slowly in the ecosystem. Damage to humans and animals is possible if, for example, particles are ingested through food. The number of particles produced was determined on the basis of water investigations before and after boiling in plastic-based kettles compared to a glass kettle. The results are discussed in this paper.

Many everyday objects consist at least partially of plastics [38]. In 2015, the private and commercial end use of plastics as a "pure" plastic product (e.g. packaging) or as a subcomponent of a system (e.g. automobile) in Germany was still around 12.06 million t, by 2017 the value had already risen to around 14.3 million t. Similar increases in the production and processing of plastics have been recorded worldwide.

The most frequently produced and processed plastic, apart from polypropylene, is polyethylene which is, for example, contained in plastic bags or refuse bins. Plastics are created by special chemical processes. One of the most important raw materials is crude oil. Depending on the ingredients and the circumstances surrounding these chemical processes, the plastic may have various properties at the end, ranging from elastic, heat-resistant to break-resistant. Degradation reactions of plastics result in microplastics (particles smaller than 5 mm), which, in addition to general plastic waste, are currently one of the biggest and most discussed environmental problems. Since the start of mass production of plastic in the 1950s, it is hard to imagine everyday life without it. Looking at the degradation process of plastics, several degradation paths can be observed. The degradation of polymers can be induced by heat (thermal degradation), oxygen (oxidative and thermal-oxidative degradation), light (photo degradation), weathering (generally UV/ozone degradation).

All polymers will undergo some degradation during service life. The result will be a steady decline in their (mechanical) properties caused by changes to the molecular weight and molecular weight distribution and composition of the polymer. Other possible changes include chain hardening, chain scission, color changes, cracking and weight loss. The plastic fragments smaller than 5 mm are defined as microplastics.

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