Hanno Christian Erythropel
PhD student in Chemical Engineering
Award-winning publication: Designing greener plasticizers: Effects of alkyl chain length and branching on the biodegradation of maleate based plasticizers
Published in: Chemosphere, vol. 134, p. 106-112
Currently used phthalate plasticizers are under increased scrutiny as they are suspected to be an endocrine disruptor; which means they resemble hormones in the body. Due to their slow breakdown by microbes, many scientific studies identified them as ubiquitous environmental contaminants, that can literally be found anywhere on the planet. Innovative and more efficient plasticizers are being designed based on Mr. Erythropel's work, with the goal of ultimately using less of such materials in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) formulations to limit our exposure to these compounds. The results will lead to newly designed green plasticizers that biodegrade easily without leaving behind stable metabolites. According to the precautionary principle, both the environment and humans would benefit directly from this, by being less exposed to such kinds of substances.