New study: Chemical mapping of tire particles for single particle analysis

Chemical mapping techniques can support research that aims to identify complex microplastics.


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Geneva, 25 February 2021: Tire Industry Project (TIP)-sponsored research has contributed to the development of a method that improves the identification of tire and road wear particles in environmental samples. Previously, identification of particles types has been limited by the inherent characteristics of black particles, which interfere with the spectroscopic techniques most often used in microplastics research.

Tire and road wear particles (TRWP), which are comprised of polymer-containing tread with pavement encrustations, are generated from friction between the tire and the road. Similar to environmentally dispersed microplastic particles (MP), the fate of TRWP depends on both the mass concentration as well as individual particle characteristics, such as particle diameter and density.

The purpose of this research was to apply suitable analytical techniques to characterize the specific physical and chemical properties of individual TRWP.

Comparisons of TRWP with other polymeric (polystyrene) and non-polymeric (carbon black) particle types demonstrated that a combination of physical and chemical markers is necessary to identify TRWP.

Addition of a density separation step to the single particle analysis techniques allowed for the determination of average primary TRWP particle size.

The use of chemical mapping techniques can support future research efforts that aim to identify complex MP.

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