• We investigate pollutants and nutrients in the environment.

  • We elucidate processes and mechanisms in the field and laboratory.

  • We explore biochemical reactions that shape the environment.

  • We study DNA preservation in rocks to investigate environmental biomes.

  • We explore the nanoscale to understand processes of global relevance.

  • We use models to quantify processes and mechanisms.


  • New Book Chapter on Polymer Biodegradation


    Biodegradable polymers can provide solutions to overcome problems caused by the linear use of plastics in many applications. However, several aspects in the context of polymer biodegradation are often misunderstood and miscommunicated – both within and outside the scientific community. ...

  • New Publication in Microplastics and Nanoplastics Explores Careers in Plastic Pollution Research


    Plastic pollution is a wicked problem that will require stakeholders from many different backgrounds to solve. In a new perspective paper that was inspired following a workshop for early career researchers in June 2022, Thorsten Hüffer from EDGE joined colleagues ...

  • Welcome New Group Member: Dean Velikov


    Dean Velikov joined EDGE in November 2023 as a Ph.D. student working in biocompostable plastics. His project will be with a close collaboration with BASF analyzing the fate of composted plastics. He has a bachelor's in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology from ...

  • Welcome New Group Member: Valerie Wilkeit


    Valerie Wilkeit has joined EDGE as a Ph.D. student in October 2023. Valerie obtained her MSc degree in Environmental Sciences from University of Vienna, where she worked on the quantification of phthalates and tire-derived compounds along the Danube. She obtained ...

Latest publications

Polymer Biodegradability 2.0: A Holistic View on Polymer Biodegradation in Natural and Engineered Environments

Biodegradable polymers are an important part of the solution toolbox to achieve circularity in the plastic economy and overcome negative impacts of a linear plastic economy. Biodegradable polymers need to excel not only on a mechanical performance level in the application to fulfill their function during the use phase but also on a biodegradation performance level after use. The biodegradation performance is tailored to the application and the receiving environment of the polymer product after use, which can be both engineered systems (e.g., compost, anaerobic digestors, wastewater treatment plants) and natural systems (e.g., soils, freshwater, or marine environments). This chapter addresses key aspects of polymer biodegradability and biodegradation in both natural and engineered systems with the goal to advance a more holistic view on the topic and, thereby, provide guidance for all stakeholders working on developing, testing, and regulating biodegradable polymers. These aspects include definitions of biodegradability and biodegradation, elucidating polymer- and environmental factors that control the biodegradation process, a discussion of the analytical chemistry of polymer biodegradation, polymer biodegradability testing and certification, as well as a brief overview of research needs. In accordance with the diverse backgrounds of the authors of the chapter, this chapter targets all stakeholder groups from academics to industry and regulators.

Michael Sander, Miriam Weber, Christian Lott, Michael Zumstein, Andreas Künkel, Glauco Battagliarin
2023 - in Advances in Polymer Science

Training the Next Generation of Plastics Pollution Researchers: Tools, Skills and Career Perspectives in an Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Field

Plastics pollution research attracts scientists from diverse disciplines. Many Early Career Researchers (ECRs) are drawn to this field to investigate and subsequently mitigate the negative impacts of plastics. Solving the multi-faceted plastic problem will always require breakthroughs across all levels of science disciplinarity, which supports interdisciplinary discoveries and underpins transdisciplinary solutions. In this context, ECRs have the opportunity to work across scientific discipline boundaries and connect with different stakeholders, including industry, policymakers and the public. To fully realize their potential, ECRs need to develop strong communication and project management skills to be able to effectively interface with academic peers and non-academic stakeholders. At the end of their formal education, many ECRs will choose to leave academia and pursue a career in private industry, government, research institutes or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Here we give perspectives on how ECRs can develop the skills to tackle the challenges and opportunities of this transdisciplinary research field and how these skills can be transferred to different working sectors. We also explore how advisors can support an ECRs’ growth through inclusive leadership and coaching. We further consider the roles each party may play in developing ECRs into mature scientists by helping them build a strong foundation, while also critically assessing problems in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary context. We hope these concepts can be useful in fostering the development of the next generation of plastics pollution researchers so they can address this global challenge more effectively.

Denise M. Mitrano, Moritz Bigalke, Andy M. Booth, Camilla Catarci Carteny, Scott Coffin, Matthias Egger, Andreas Gondikas, Thorsten Hüffer, Albert A. Koelmans, Elma Lahive, Karin Mattsson, Stéphanie Reynaud, Stephan Wagner
2023 - Microplastics and Nanoplastics, 3: 24

Isolation of Carbon Black from Soils by Dispersion for Analysis: Quantitation and Characterization by Field Flow Fractionation Techniques

In the present work, a procedure based on a dispersive medium for carbon black (CB) isolation from soil samples for analysis was proposed for the first time. Polymeric and biological dispersants and a sequential use of both dispersants were assayed. Asymmetrical flow field flow fractionation with dynamic light scattering detector (AF4-DLS) and sedimentation field flow fractionation with multi-angle light scattering detector (SdF3-MALS) were used for CB quantitation and characterization in the achieved dispersions. Soil samples contaminated with CB were processed, and CB isolation depended on the solid size distribution and composition and dispersant nature. More quantitative isolations were achieved for the four soils treated by the biological dispersant. As the organic matter percentage is higher in soil, the CB isolation was better, varying between 75 and 99% with standard deviation (s) ⩽ 2% for all soils. A soil contaminated with a CB-based pigment paste was analyzed, achieving (99 ± 2)% expressed as expanded uncertainty (K = 2) of dispersive isolation by the biological dispersant, and the sampling was scaled to 250 g of soil with positive results. The procedure was completed by CB recovery to obtain a solid residue able to be reused if necessary. For the filter-aided recovery step, different membranes (fiberglass, nylon, and Teflon) with a pore size between 0.1 and 5 μm were tested. The quantitation of the CB retained in the filter was measured by diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. Teflon (0.10 μm) provided better results for CB recovery, and its re-dispersion was also studied with suitable results. Determination of CB from the filters by diffuse reflectance spectrometry provided the same results than AF4 for CB dispersions.

Lorenzo Sanjuan-Navarro, Aaron Boughbina-Portolés, Yolanda Moliner-Martinéz, Frank von der Kammer, Pilar Campíns-Falcó
2023 - ACS Omega, 8: 34795−34804

Lecture series

EDGE Lecture: Visualizing Data - Through the Eyes of the Reader

Dr. Laura Kösten
University of Vienna
16:30 h
Melchior Neumayr Saal, UZA 2

EDGE Lecture: tba

Dr. Andrew Booth
16:30 h
Melchior Neumayr Saal, UZA 2

EDGE Lecture: Membranes for Selective Ion Separations at the Water-Energy Nexus

Prof. Menachem Elimelech
Yale University
16:30 h