Abstract: Microplastics have been identified in many aquatic environments and are considered as sources and transport vectors for toxic chemicals (e.g., heavy metals and POPs) or pathogenic microorganisms. In our research group, we have been investigating the colloidal properties and photochemical aging/weathering of microplastics as well as the release of potentially toxic substances from the weathered microplastics. In this presentation, I will briefly introduce my own microplastic research and primarily focus on the introduction of challenges of microplastics and nanoplastics detection and identification due to their small sizes and interferences from size-dependent and extrinsic factors such as surface contamination or coating by organic matters or additives. I will also give an overview of the latest research results utilizing various of novel technologies/techniques for separation from environmental media (e.g., water or soil) and characterization. I will also introduce a few recent studies that demonstrated the use of scanning probe microscope, AFM combined with IR/Raman, sequential pyrolysis (Pyr-GC/MS) and thermal desorption pyrolysis (TD-Pyr-GC/MS) for ultrafine plastics particle analysis.
Biography: Wen Zhang is currently an associate professor of NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with a second appointment in the Department of Chemical and Material Engineering. Wen is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) registered in the States of New Jersey and Delaware. He is an American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) Board Certified Environmental Engineer (BCEE). Dr. Wen Zhang's research focuses on colloidal interfaces and processes that are crucial for environmental and chemical engineering applications. His research embraces environmental behavior and interfacial processes for nanomaterials, microplastics and soft particles such as microbes and bubbles, catalytic/reactive membrane filtration systems for desalination, resource recovery and emerging contaminant removal, photocatalysis, microalgal removal and harvesting. His lastest research also expands from agricultural applications of nanobubbles to lithium recovery from spent lithium ion batteries.
This webinar is a certified green event by the University of Illinois' Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.