Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Semiautomatic sampler for microplastics dispersed in the aquatic environment

aquatic environment pollutionfiltrationorganic matter digestionsemi-automatic microplastics sampler


Semi-automatic system for collecting microplastics in surface waters (0-2m) of seas, oceans and navigable inland waters (between 0 and 2 m). Unlike known systems, the sampler devised allows the long preservation of the samples due to the pre-digestion of organic matter in the collected water.

The sampler, which can also be implemented on board commercial vessels, is easy to use and does not require specialized operators, as it is semiautomatic and remotely governable in real-time.

Technical features

The main feature of our sampler is the controlled pre-digestion, with acid and/or basic solutions or enzymes, of the organic material (phyto and zooplankton) accumulated on the filter membrane able to collect the plastic micro-particles. The pre-digestion allows for greater sample collection and storage performance until delivery to the lab. The high degree of automation of the system allows the sampling plan, the volume of water to be withdrawn, the sampling method (continuously, at geographical points of interest, in pre-established time intervals) to be managed remotely and in real-time. The semi-automatic operation makes the sampler also implementable on fishing and commercial vessels, as well as on research vessels. Our sampler operates as follows: (a) withdrawal of an established volume of surface water (~0-2 m); (b) removal of any unwanted bodies (>70μm) via self-cleaning filter; (c) sample collection on a membrane filter; (d) digestion of organic component through programmed treatment; (e) encapsulation, labeling and storage of the sample at Troom until its transfer to labs.

Possible Applications

  • Sampling surveys of microplastics present in the aquatic environment (seas, oceans, rivers and navigable lakes); scientific research on microplastics;
  • Definition of intervention plans and actions of local, national and supranational authorities for the monitoring of microplastics in the aquatic environment.


  • simplicity of use; semi-automatic management sampler;
  • drastic reduction in microplastic sampling costs;
  • remarkable increase of available data for scientists and policy-makers;
  • commercial mechanical components, traditional electronics and communication systems already supplied to the naval unit concerned.