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    Optimised graphite/carbon black loading of recycled PLA for the production of low-cost conductive filament and its application to the detection of β-estradiol in environmental samples.

    Augusto, Karen KL, Crapnell, Robert D, Bernalte, Elena, Zighed, Sabri, Ehamparanathan, Anbuchselvan, Pimlott, Jessica L, Andrews, Hayley G, Whittingham, Matthew J, Rowley-Neale, Samuel J, Fatibello-Filho, Orlando and Banks, Craig E ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0756-9764 (2024) Optimised graphite/carbon black loading of recycled PLA for the production of low-cost conductive filament and its application to the detection of β-estradiol in environmental samples. Microchimica Acta, 191 (7). 375. ISSN 0026-3672

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    Abstract

    The production, optimisation, physicochemical, and electroanalytical characterisation of a low-cost electrically conductive additive manufacturing filament made with recycled poly(lactic acid) (rPLA), castor oil, carbon black, and graphite (CB-G/PLA) is reported. Through optimising the carbon black and graphite loading, the best ratio for conductivity, low material cost, and printability was found to be 60% carbon black to 40% graphite. The maximum composition within the rPLA with 10 wt% castor oil was found to be an overall nanocarbon loading of 35 wt% which produced a price of less than £0.01 per electrode whilst still offering excellent low-temperature flexibility and reproducible printing. The additive manufactured electrodes produced from this filament offered excellent electrochemical performance, with a heterogeneous electron (charge) transfer rate constant, k<sup>0</sup> calculated to be (2.6 ± 0.1) × 10<sup>-3</sup> cm s<sup>-1</sup> compared to (0.46 ± 0.03) × 10<sup>-3</sup> cm s<sup>-1</sup> for the commercial PLA benchmark. The additive manufactured electrodes were applied to the determination of β-estradiol, achieving a sensitivity of 400 nA µM<sup>-1</sup>, a limit of quantification of 70 nM, and a limit of detection of 21 nM, which compared excellently to other reports in the literature. The system was then applied to the detection of ß-estradiol within four real water samples, including tap, bottled, river, and lake water, where recoveries between 95 and 109% were obtained. Due to the ability to create high-performance filament at a low material cost (£0.06 per gram) and through the use of more sustainable materials such as recycled polymers, bio-based plasticisers, and naturally occurring graphite, additive manufacturing will have a permanent place within the electroanalysis arsenal in the future.

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