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Understanding the mechanisms of degradation of plastic materials

The lifespan of non-biodegradable plastics in the environment has been estimated at several hundred years.

Several million tonnes of plastics have accumulated in the aquatic environment over the past 50 years.

Under the effect of UV rays and mechanical abrasion they generate fragmented particles called microplastics when their size is less than 5 mm.

However, the kinetics of these processes, the size of the fragments generated according to the nature of the polymers or their aging conditions remain almost unknown.

 Work started at the IMMM has made it possible to develop accelerated aging protocols leading to the fragmentation of model polymers.

As a continuation of this work and in response to industrial issues, the CTTM has implemented a project on the aging of industrial polymers exposed to the environment in the case of outdoor applications.

After irradiation under solar spectrum, exposure to heat and water leaching, the loss of properties but also the emissions of degradation products are measured.

Toboggan in the sun

PP aged for 10 years