Microplastics in the environment and their measurement techniques

Target Group

PhD students of the Doctoral Schools of Bioscience Engineering working on microplastics at UGent.

Organizing & Scientific Committee


Prof. Dr. Frederik Ronsse
Faculty: Bioscience Engineering - Department: Green chemistry and technology
E-mail: Frederik.Ronsse@UGent.be

Other members of the organising & scientific committee

Adriana Estrada Leon (PhD, UGent)
Tamara Menares Tapia (PhD, UGent)


Experts working in the field of microplastics (MP) acknowledge the need for establishing harmonization in the measurement of MP’s given that there is not yet an unique methodology being used. Among the existing analytical methodologies used for MP quantification, the thermoanalytical technique known as analytical pyrolysis-GC-MS is becoming well known and holds major potential. This course will impart knowledge on the analytical techniques currently being employed for MP quantification and will focus on using analytical pyrolysis-GC-MS for the identification and quantification of MP’s in various environmental and biological matrices.

Topics and Objectives


This course deals with different aspects concerning microplastics (MP) in the environment. The different aspects relate to

(1) the types of MP, their sources, and the relevance in monitoring them,

(2) the available spectroscopy and thermoanalytical techniques for MP measurement,

(3) the required steps for sample preparation according to the type of matrix (water/sediment/biological) and

(4) hands on in identifying and quantifying MP using raw analytical (instrumental) data and a data post-processing software tool


In this course, participants will learn about the different types of micro plastics (MPs), their fate in the environmental compartments, the used techniques for their quantification and the required preparation and extraction of samples (water/soil/sediment/biological matrix) prior to their analysis. One of the main objectives of this course will be for participants to learn how to work with F-search MPs 2.0. This is a software tool for the identification and quantification of micro plastics in the environment. F-search uses thermochemical decomposition information from microplastics in a given sample (and from calibration) generated by analytical pyrolysis, a thermoanalytical technique. This tool enables the detection and quantification of commonly used polymers (e.g PP, PE, PET, PVC, ect.) in complex matrices. Additionally, the participants will learn on-site about the analytical pyrolysis technique used for MPs determination as well as the insights for the use of this technique in other fields.

Dates and Venue

Dates: August 29 - September 1 2022
Venue: Partially online and on campus (Coupure)

Program and Time schedule

Day 1: Microplastics

General introduction

Monitoring types, policies for monitoring, occurrence in different species, effects on species, etc. by Bavo de Witte (Belgium) (3h)

Day 2: Micro plastics measurement techniques

Spectroscopy based techniques: FT-IR, micro FT-IR by Jes Vollertsen (Denmark) (2h)

Thermoanalytical methods: micropyrolysis by Marco Mattonai (2h)

Day 3: Sampling and sample extraction of micro plastics

Water/waste water matrix by Jes Vollertsen (Denmark) (1h)

Soil/Sediment matrix & Biological matrix by Barbara Scholz-Böttcher (2h)

Sediment matrix by Marco Mattonai (1h)

Day 4: Identification and quantification of micro plastics with micropyrolysis analysis

Micropyrolysis technique intro by Frederik Ronsse (1h) - In-person (lab)

F-search for MPs analysis by Michael Soll (Germany) (4h) - In-person (pc-lab)


Please follow this link
If the course is fully booked, you can ask to be added to the waiting list by sending an e-mail to doctoralschools@ugent.be. In case of cancellations, you can take the open place.

Registration fee

Free of charge for Doctoral School members of Bioscience Engineering of Ghent University

Teaching methods and materials

(1) on-site lectures by experts totaling 11 hours.

(2) Interactive practical exercises with experts for the identification and quantification of MPs (pc lab) using (existing) instrumental data is 4 hours.

(3) Lab demo of the micropyrolysis technique is 1 hour.

Slides from the lectures + practical videos about the technique and software to be learned (distributed prior the start of the course). Recordings of lectures will be made available afterwards once the course is completed for all participants

Number of participants

15 - 30 participants.



Evaluation methods and criteria (doctoral training programme)

100% attendance + completion of dedicated exercise in F-search (MPs identification and quantification software)

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