GOAL is VITO’s specialist lab for organic and inorganic chemical analysis. Our lab rarely performs standard measurements, instead it offers custom solutions to its customers.GOAL is VITO’s specialist lab for organic and inorganic chemical analysis. Our lab rarely performs standard measurements, instead it offers custom solutions.

ILSA – VITO COLLABORATION PAVES THE WAY TOWARDS NEW PLANT-BASED BIOSTIMULANTS

ILSA S.p.a. is an agrochemical company headquartered in Arzignano (Italy), which produces and supplies biostimulants and other bio-active products for agriculture together with organic and organo-mineral fertilisers, solids and liquids. They joined forces with us for expertise about chemical characterisation.

We took VITO on board for a first project regarding one of our main bio-active substance of natural origin, triacontanol. We were struggling to get sound, objective data from various laboratories that offer standard services. We realised that our needs were beyond “standard” and that we needed a scientific project partner rather than a service provider. The broad expertise and technology that is available at VITO made the difference. 

A large portion of the plant-based products remains untapped because the chemical constitution is unclear or unknown. Based on a wide array of analytical tools VITO is now bringing characterisation to the next level by both testing our hypotheses regarding the constitution but also bringing in new insights based on wide unknown compound screening and structure elucidation.

PURIFIED WASTEWATER FOR CHEMISTRY AND PHARMACEUTICALS

InOpSys is a Belgian company that builds mobile and modular water treatment plants to process toxic wastewater for chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

Wastewater containing toxic components is processed in incineration plants. But valuable raw materials are lost in this process. InOpSys, with the help of VITO has developed a mobile water purification system that removes and recovers the toxic components. VITO’s contribution was particularly intensive during the pilot tests. Samples were brought in daily, the results were available the next morning.

SMALLEST MICROPLASTICS NO LONGER SLIP THROUGH THE NET

Microplastics are found almost everywhere. Scientists at UGent and VITO have developed a way to monitor even the smallest particles.

The increasing presence of micro-sized plastics in the environment and food chain is of growing concern. Microplastics do not only occur in inhabited environments but also in snow in the polar regions, suggesting that they can be transported through the atmosphere over long distances and possibly can also be inhaled.

Monitoring the occurrence of these microplastics and thorough evaluation of their possible effect on different ecosystems and especially on human health is more than appropriate. But that is precisely where the problem lies, because there are as yet no methods for easily characterizing such particles, especially the very small variety.

NEW METHOD

A team of researchers from Ghent University (UGent) and VITO has now demonstrated that ICP-mass spectrometry or shorter, ICP-MS, a technique used to determine the content of (heavy) metals in all kinds of samples, can also be used for the characterization of small microplastics. Based on this technique, the research team developed a method with which they can measure the number of polystyrene particles present in an artificial water sample and determine their size to at least 1 μm.

Further research is of course still required in order to be able to use this method on a routine basis.