Investigation of microplastic particle exchange at the air-water-interface via the process of bursting bubbles

, Oehlschlägel Lisa Marie, Georgi Christoph, Held Andreas Balthasar.

In this study, which is part of the SFB 1357 Microplastics, the transition of MP particles from water bodies into the air is examined. Investigating the water-air transition path is important because MP particles are abundant in water bodies. A key question is whether or not MP particles are transferred from water bodies into the atmosphere, and at what rate? One transfer process is the ejection of water drops into the air. For droplet generation, several mechanisms are known. The bursting of gas bubbles at the water-air interface is an important mechanism. In order to quantify MP particle transition rates due to bubble bursting and the influence of MP properties on the transition process, we set up an experiment in a glass flask containing 1 l of desalted water, a stainless-steel frit for generating bubbles and 1 l of initially particle-free air. For generating bubbles, a stainless-steel frit with a volume flow rate of 20 ml min-1 of particle-free air is used. For the first experiments, spherical polystyrene (PS) particles with diameters of 0.5 - 3 µm are available. An optical particle counter measures the number of airborne particles after diffusion drying in 31 size bins from 0.25 µm to 32 µm. In these first experiments, we find a strong enhancement of airborne particle number concentrations in the size range of the PS particles suspended in the water. Comparing the ratio of suspended PS particles in water and the measured airborne particle concentration we find a decreasing transition rate with increasing particle size in our preliminary experiments. Further experiments are ongoing to validate these findings, and we are also planning experiments with varying particle sizes, concentrations and different polymer types as well as different bubble sizes and bubble concentrations. This poster is part of the SFB1357 Local Node Event.

View online