Analyse Microplastics in Minutes, Not Hours

Want to bring exceptional speed and throughput to your microplastics research?

Microplastics in the environment are becoming a greater concern as scientists begin to understand their penetration into our ecosystems and food chains. Typically, techniques such as vibrational spectroscopy have been used to chemically identify microplastics. However, this approach is often complex and slow.

What you will learn

The Agilent Laser Direct Infrared (LDIR) chemical imaging system introduces an automated approach to imaging and spectral analysis. Its Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology—coupled with rapidly scanning optics—provides fast, high-quality images and spectral data. Using the 8700 LDIR, experts and non-experts alike can:

  • Analyse samples in minutes, not hours.
  • Determine the chemical identity, size, and shape of microplastics in their samples.
  • Obtain useful statistical data to advance their microplastics research.
  • Take rapid, detailed images of large sample areas with intuitive Agilent Clarity software.


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Mitigating Plastic Pollution While Regenerating Our Oceans

It is estimated that more than 75% of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced over the last 65 years have turned into waste, of which up to 13 million metric tons end up in our oceans every year.

Plastic is one of the most enduring materials created by humans. Unfortunately, it can take hundreds of years to degrade, and even then, it often becomes microplastics – tiny particles that can be ingested by marine animals. These microplastics enter the food chain, leading to disastrous consequences for our planet and its inhabitants.

Improving plastic waste management globally is critical and individuals and organisations can play a part in reducing plastic pollution and regenerating oceans. Researchers are exploring biodegradable plastics and alternative materials to reduce plastic’s impact and there are many alternative solutions available to reduce single-use plastics.


What labs are doing to reduce plastic pollution

Labs can be influential advocates and encourage industry-wide shifts toward more sustainable practices. Of course, labs are key players in the research of plastic pollution, analyzing to help organisations develop a better understanding of the scope of plastic waste worldwide and use those insights to create innovative solutions, especially for marine environments.

But there’s also no denying that labs consume vast amounts of single-use plastic items, including pipette tips, tubes, gloves, and reagent bottles. These plastics are essential for maintaining sterile conditions and avoiding contamination, but their disposal contributes significantly to plastic waste. Lab instruments are also made up of plastic parts and do most of us know the process for disposing of those instruments at the end of their life?

What’s exciting to see is the scientific community strongly advocating for change and implementing practices that already have a significant impact such as:

  • Reviewing the materials used in common consumables and opting for products with minimal plastic content or those made from recyclable materials.
  • Incorporating re-using along with recycling and engaging with suppliers to support re-useable product options and recycling programs
  • Designing experiments and workflows with circular economy principles in mind.
  • Setting targets for reducing plastic waste.


An example of plastic sustainable solutions

With a focus on forming a biotech company to tackle plastic pollution, ULUU was started in 2020 by Dr Julia Reisser and Michael Kingsbury. They are trying to solve the growing issue of plastic pollution by prototyping alternative materials to market.

ULUU’s PHA product sample


“Unlike synthetic plastics, our materials are not produced using petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels. Instead, they are made from sustainable feedstocks with much more sustainable production processes. And, in the end, our products are compostable and marine-biodegradable, so they don’t pose a lasting impact on the environment,” described Dr. Luke Richards, lead scientist at ULUU.

The mission at ULUU is to replace plastics with materials that are good for the world. They’re producing a versatile natural polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), using seaweed as a sustainable resource for that process. The result is a material that is biodegradable and won’t accumulate in oceans and landfills or linger as microplastics in biological systems.

Discover the Challenges in Microplastics Analysis in our webinar >

ULUU scientists Dr Sheik Md Moniruzzaman and Vatsal Meshram in their QC lab using the Agilent 1260 Infinity II LC with Agilent InfinityLab LC/MSD iQ


In terms of climate change, using seaweed as a feedstock, ULUU captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converts it into PHA. Their process also doesn’t rely on conventional land-based farming, which can take land away from natural ecosystems. Additionally, farming seaweed has some positive impacts on oceans. Research indicates that seaweed helps clean up environmental pollutants and reverses acidification and eutrophication.

ULUU uses bioreactors ranging from 1 to 50 L to make their products. They also use specialised equipment to investigate injection moulding and turn their PHA product into solid objects for prototyping. The entire production process from seaweed input to the finished PHA powder is monitored by their QC lab, in which most assays use chromatography instruments. These instruments include two Agilent 1260 Infinity II liquid chromatographs (LCs) and one Agilent 8890 gas chromatograph (GC), with detection by an Agilent InfinityLab LC/MSD iQ, an Agilent 1260 Infinity II refractive index detector (RID), and an Agilent 5977B GC/MSD.

Agilent 8890
Agilent LC/MSD iQ
Agilent 1260 Infinity II
Agilent 5977B GC-MSD


Sustainability is the way of the future for all laboratories and investing in the right solutions now can turn the tide for the future. Chemetrix is the partner labs that need to reach its sustainability goals and implement solutions that will reduce its environmental impact and plastic waste now and in years to come.


Analysis of Permanent Gases: More Challenging Than You Might Think

Permanent gases such as carbon monoxide, CO2, O2, N2, and methane are common in refinery gases, natural gas, fuel cell gases, and many other industrial processes. Permanent gas analysis finds wide application in the fields of petrochemical, chemical, and energy industries.

On the surface, this would appear to be a simple separation—however, there are several challenges related to the analysis of permanent gases. This webinar will discuss typical techniques for resolving and detecting permanent gases, including carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Other topics will include cryogenic techniques, column isolation, and the use of the Agilent J&W Select Permanent Gases/CO2 GC column.



Mark Sinnott
Application Engineer
Agilent Technologies, Inc.

Mark Sinnott works for Agilent Technologies as a Technical Support Engineer in the Consumables and Supplies Division (CSD). In his position at Agilent, Mark performs technical support and applications assistance to gas chromatographers worldwide. He has more than 22 years of experience in gas chromatography, including environmental analysis of compounds in air, soil and water matrices, including dissolved gas analysis for the electrical industry. Mark holds a Master’s Degree in Chemistry from California State University, Sacramento, and currently resides in Twin Falls Idaho.


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