LLE/IWI – Biodegradation of C-C Backbone Plastics and Microplastics in the Marine Environment (Nicolas Kalogerakis, Technical University of Crete)

October 30, 2019 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Myhal MY150
55 St. George
Branden Wesseling



Co-hosted with the Institute for Water Innovation (IWI)

Host: Vladimiros Papangelakis

Plastic debris and in particular secondary microplastics represent a significant problem among the various pollution problems facing the marine environment. Several studies have been conducted on the fate and weathering of plastics in the marine environment including the generation and fate of microplastics. Laboratory results on the biodegradation of plastics show great variability. An important question, which remains unanswered, is what is the level of weathering that makes the common plastics (C-C backbone) biodegradable at a reasonably fast rate. In this presentation we focus on the determination of biodegradation and fragmentation rates of polystyrene and polyethylene films naturally weathered on beach sand as well as polypropylene films weathered in seawater mesocosms. Their fate in the water column is also examined. Overall, the results are very encouraging pointing to new challenges that need to be addressed for a successful biodegradation of plastics in the marine environment as well as significant advances in the context of circular economy. The most effective mitigation measures and plastic debris removal technologies from the marine environment will also be highlighted.




Nicolas Kalogerakis is Professor of Biochemical Engineering at the Technical University of Crete (Greece) where he has served as Vice-President of the University Council and as Department Head (twice). Prior to that he was a Professor at SUNY-Buffalo (USA) and at the University of Calgary (Canada). He holds a Diploma in Chemical Engineering from NTUA (Athens), an MEng from McGill University and a PhD from the University of Toronto. His area of expertise includes environmental biotechnology focusing on bioremediation and phytoremediation technologies for the restoration of contaminated sites; protection and restoration of the marine environment; novel oxygenation systems and wastewater treatment; and mathematical modeling of environmental processes. Currently his group is participating in several National projects and 4 EU-funded research projects (H2020) and he was the coordinator of the large FP7-project KILL*SPILL. Prof. Kalogerakis’ publication record includes five patents, one book, 188 papers in referred journals and more than 170 presentations at international conferences including several keynote and plenary presentations. He has >8100 citations with a H-index of 47 (Scopus). He has served as a member of the European Commission Environment Committee (2007-2011) and as Sherpa at the European Commission High Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies (2013-2015).


Click here for more information on Lectures of the Leading Edge 2019-2020