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Degradation of water soluble poly(vinyl alcohol) with acoustic and hydrodynamic cavitation : laying foundations for microplastics
ID Petkovšek, Martin (Author), ID Kržan, Andrej (Author), ID Šmid, Alenka (Author), ID Žagar, Ema (Author), ID Zupanc, Mojca (Author)

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Abstract
Water-soluble poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVOH) is widely used in the textile and paper industries and in households as detergent pods. In addition to conventional microplastics, water-soluble PVOH poses an environmental threat because it is usually washed down the drain unnoticed and unobstructed. If not treated during wastewater treatment, it enters the aquatic ecosystem in estimated quantities of several thousand tons annually. The present study aims to address the degradation of PVOH on a laboratory scale by acoustic and hydrodynamic cavitation, assisted or not with an oxidative agent. A hydrodynamic cavitation generator, designed with consideration for real-life application, presents an innovative technology adapted for wastewater treatment. The effects of temperature, addition of external oxidant, and methanol as a hydroxyl radical ($^•$OH) scavenger to PVOH solutions were systematically studied. At optimal operating conditions, PVOH molar mass averages significantly decreased (from weight average molar mass of 124 to 1.6 kg mol$^{−1}$ in case of 60 min treatment with hydrodynamic cavitation and addition of external oxidant) with concomitant narrowing of molar mass distribution. The SEC/MALS, FTIR, and $^1$H NMR results show that mechanical degradation of PVOH chains predominates in acoustic cavitation, while chemical effects also play an important role in hydrodynamic cavitation. Findings from this study could serve as model research for the degradation of other carbon-backbone polymers and provide a route to improved ultimate (bio)degradation of functionalized polymers in the environment.

Language:English
Keywords:cavitation, PVOH, microplastics, degradation, mechanical engineering, pollution remediation
Work type:Article
Typology:1.01 - Original Scientific Article
Organization:FS - Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
FFA - Faculty of Pharmacy
Publication status:Published
Publication version:Version of Record
Year:2023
Number of pages:11 str.
Numbering:Vol. 6, art. 35
PID:20.500.12556/RUL-145650 This link opens in a new window
UDC:532.528:678.7
ISSN on article:2059-7037
DOI:10.1038/s41545-023-00248-8 This link opens in a new window
COBISS.SI-ID:150832899 This link opens in a new window
Publication date in RUL:04.05.2023
Views:752
Downloads:62
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Record is a part of a journal

Title:npj clean water
Shortened title:npj clean water
Publisher:Springer Nature, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals
ISSN:2059-7037
COBISS.SI-ID:529633561 This link opens in a new window

Licences

License:CC BY 4.0, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Link:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Description:This is the standard Creative Commons license that gives others maximum freedom to do what they want with the work as long as they credit the author.

Secondary language

Language:Slovenian
Keywords:kavitacija, PVOH, mikroplastika, razgradnja

Projects

Funder:ARRS - Slovenian Research Agency
Project number:J7-1814
Name:Kavitacija - rešitev za problematiko mikroplastike?

Funder:ARRS - Slovenian Research Agency
Project number:J2-3044
Name:Kontroliranje ekstremnih kavitacijskih pogojev z lasersko funkcionalizacijo površin (eCATS)

Funder:ARRS - Slovenian Research Agency
Project number:P2-0401
Name:Energetsko strojništvo

Funder:ARRS - Slovenian Research Agency
Project number:P1-0208
Name:Farmacevtska kemija: načrtovanje, sinteza in vrednotenje učinkovin

Funder:ARRS - Slovenian Research Agency
Project number:P2-0145
Name:Polimeri in polimerni materiali s posebnimi lastnostmi

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