Project title:  Plastic Nano-Particles in the Ocean: Laundry and Fabric Wear

Supervisor: Dr Marc Masen Marius Bilsdorfer

The project investigated the release of plastic micro- and nano-particles from synthetic materials such as polyester, which have become a common alternative to natural fibres and contribute largely to plastic pollution in oceans. In a single wash, up to 1.5 million fibres that are too small to be filtered out in sewage treatment plants are shed and enter marine ecosystems. From there, they can make their way back down the food chain and into the human body. To investigate the mechanisms behind fibre release and make recommendations for future fabric production, this project investigated the effect on the mass of fibres shed by various fabric parameters such as twist, filament diameter or architecture, and several washing parameters such as temperature, wash duration, water volume and detergent. For this purpose, a test rig simulating a washing machine was designed to allow variation in those parameters.