Shape dependence of the release rate of chemicals from plastic microparticles


The release of chemical additives from plastic microparticles in the aqueous phase represents a potential indirect threat for environment and biota. The estimate of the release timescale is demanded for drawing sensible conclusions on quantitative grounds. While the microparticles are generally taken to be spherical for ease of modelling, in reality the variety of shapes is large. Here, we face the problem of working out an empirical simple expression for estimating the release times for arbitrary shapes, assuming that the plastic material is in the rubbery state, that the dynamics inside the particle is a diffusion process, and that the release is irreversible. Our inspection is based on numerical simulations of the release process for randomly generated instances of regular and irregular geometries. The expression that we obtain allows one to estimate the release time in terms of the corresponding time (easy to compute) for the equal-volume spherical particle taken as reference, and of the ratio between the surface areas of particle and equivalent sphere.

Authors: Riccardo Frazzetto, Diego Frezzato
; Full Source: Environmental science and pollution research international 2022 Jul 12. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-21440-2.