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2024. 05. 24 -

S. Pleskytė researching microplastics receives an award for the best oral presentation at a chemistry conference

Dr. Vaida Kitrytė-Syrpa (KTU), Sonata Pleskytė (FTMC) and Dr. Andrius Jaskūnas (KTU). Photo: Kaunas University of Technology
17 May The 28th student scientific conference Chemistry and Chemical Technology 2024 was held at Kaunas University of Technology. The main aim of the event was to encourage students to participate in scientific activities, to expand their knowledge, to take interest in scientific progress and to share their experience and ideas.
Sonata Pleskytė, a PhD student of the Department of Environmental Research at FTMC, has won the first prize for the best oral presentation in the Analytical, Physical and Environmental Chemistry section.
Congratulations to our colleague, we are very happy!
Sonata's presentation is entitled "Photocatalytic degradation of LDPE microplastics by a TiO2-clay nanomaterial".
The young scientist's work is extremely relevant to all of us and concerns microplastic degradation - the process by which microscopic plastic particles break down over time. In nature, this takes a very long time - from decades to centuries - and microplastics that remain in the environment can pose a threat to humans, animals, soil or water bodies. It is therefore crucial to find new methods to remove microplastics.
S. Pleskytė uses clay-based nanomaterials to remove microplastic particles from water, and at the KTU conference she presented how different parameters change the degradation efficiency.
(Sonata Pleskytė. Photo from personal archive)
"My presentation focused on the photocatalytic degradation of the most common microplastic in aquatic systems, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), using nanomaterials of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and clay kaolinite. The photocatalytic process in this case initiates and accelerates the degradation of the microplastic by simultaneous exposure of the microplastic particles to a catalyst and light.
In my work, I have presented nanomaterials that are relatively cheap and environmentally friendly, and their synthesis is quick and easy. The study achieved a 30% degradation efficiency of LDPE microplastic particles after 1 hour of exposure to ultraviolet light. The influence of various factors such as pH, ionic strength of the solution, etc. was also determined," says Sonata.
Her PhD supervisor is Dr. Steigvilė Byčenkienė. Together with her colleagues, S. Pleskytė plans to continue her research and make microplastics removal even more effective.
Future studies are also planned to investigate how these materials dispose of other types of plastics, such as polystyrene (PS) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
According to Sonata, a PhD student at the FTMC who won the award at the KTU conference, "it is most gratifying that the relevance of the topic developed in the PhD studies (microplastic pollution and the possibilities of removing these particles) is attracting the interest and support of the scientific community".
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