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Biodegradability Lab

Dr. Micheline Labrie in the SMAST Biodegradability Lab

The Biodegradability Lab at UMass Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) provides access to precise and reliable biodegradability testing services for companies across various industries. Our state-of-the-art lab is equipped to help your business assess the environmental impact of your products and ensure that your materials meet biodegradability standards

Features and functionality: biodegradability testing

The lab is equipped to test experimental materials, as well as related respirometry applications that require high sensitivity measurements of gas production. Biodegradability tests can be conducted following standard operation procedures developed in adherence with ASTM D6691 (seawater), D5511 (landfill), and D5338 (compost) standard methods or customized to meet specific client requirements.    

The low levels of biological activity associated with plastic biomineralization can be detected using each of the lab’s four respirometry systems (Micro-Oxymax, Columbus Instruments). The computer-automated assay systems include:

  • 80-reactor anaerobic system (for landfill assays) with carbon dioxide and methane sensors
  • 60- and 80-reactor aerobic systems (for seawater assays) with a carbon dioxide sensor
  • 40-reactor aerobic system (for composting assays) with oxygen and carbon dioxide sensors

The lab components and key features have been designed in close collaboration and with critical feedback from PrimaLoft textiles engineers, chemical engineers, and environmental scientists. Associated laboratory services include cryogenic milling of experimental materials, particulate carbon and nitrogen and dissolved nutrient analysis of the experimental material and/or inoculum.  

The Biodegradability Lab at SMAST is also a place where local K-12 students can learn about the challenges of plastics in our environment and how to solve them using STEM skills. 

For more information about our testing rates, please inquire at

Biodegradability Lab equipment 

  • Columbus Instruments' Micro-Oxymax system 
  • Perkin Elmer Elemental Analyzer for CN analysis 
  • pH meter/titrator 
  • Conductivity meter 
  • Seawater filtration setups and drying ovens for POCN and Chla 
  • Spectrometry/autoanalyzer for full suite of N species and phosphorus 
  • Seawater lab for raw seawater collection 
  • -32C freezer and 4C cold room for sample storage 
  • Autoclave/deionized water 


  • ASTM D6691 Seawater Aerobic 
  • ASTM D5511 High-Solids Anaerobic   
  • ASTM D5338 Compost Aerobic 

Featured client


PrimaLoft is a leader in advanced material technology, producing sustainable synthetic insulation products. PrimaLoft materials are found in the insulation and fabrics used in more than 900 brands globally, including Patagonia, Canada Goose, Lululemon, New Balance, Adidas, Nike, and L.L. Bean.

Biodegradability Lab media and presentations

Research Professor Micheline Labrie, PhD '21, presented at the SPE webinar on Biodegradation Studies and Experiments for Materials in the Marine Environment.  Her presentation detailed methods and instrumentation for testing biodegradable polymers at the SMAST Biodegradability Lab. 

Labrie also presented at the New Bedford Science Cafe  and led a conversation with the local community about biodegradability and plastics in the natural environment. 

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