Anamarija Pulitika, PANAGIOTIS Karamanis, Marin Kovačić, Ana Lončarić Božić, Hrvoje Kušić

An Atomic‐Level Perspective on the interactions between Organic Pollutants and PET particles: A Comprehensive Computational and DFT Investigation

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

Microplastics (MPs) have recently attracted a lot of attention worldwide due to their abundance and potentially harmful effects on the environment and on human health. One of the factors of concern is their ability to adsorb and disperse other harmful organic pollutants in the environment. To properly assess the adsorption capacity of MP for organic pollutants in different environments, it is pivotal to understand the mechanisms of their interactions in detail at the atomic level. In this work, we studied interactions between polyethylene terephthalate (PET) MP and small organic pollutants containing different functional groups within the framework of density functional theory (DFT). Our computational outcomes show that organic pollutants mainly bind to the surface of a PET model via weak non‐boding interactions, mostly hydrogen bonds. The binding strength between pollutant molecules and PET particles strongly depends on the adsorption site while we have found that the particle size is of lesser importance. Specifically, carboxylic sites are able to form strong hydrogen bonds with pollutants containing hydrogen bond donor or acceptor groups. On the other hand, it is found that in such kind of systems π‐π interactions play a minor role in adsorption on PET particles.

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