Irish Teen Figured Out How to Suck Microplastics from Drinking Water

By: | August 13th, 2019

Image courtesy Wikimedia

Recently scientists detected Microplastics in drinking water as well as in drinking water sources.  Microplastics in the water have an effect on humans, animals, and the overall environment. According to a study in 2015, accumulated number of microplastic particles in world’s oceans ranges from 15 to 51 trillion particles, weighing between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tons.

Now, an Irish Teenager, Fionn Ferreira created a way to remove microplastic pollution from the oceans. 18-year-old Ferreira developed this as a project for Google’s 2019 science fair. He won the competition and earned the $50,000 prize for this innovation.

Ferreira titled the project as an “investigation into the removal of microplastics from water using ferrofluids” 

Ferreira filtered microplastics from water using ferrofluids. Ferrofluids are basically non-toxic magnetic liquids comprising of magnetite liquid and oil. Ferrofluids have fluid properties of a liquid and the magnetic properties of a solid. Ferrofluids are reactive to magnets. Ferreira managed to attract microplastic using the non-polar properties of ferrofluids and microplastics. During his project Ferreira investigated this extraction method on 10 different types of microplastics.

He said, “I live near the seashore and have become increasingly aware of plastic pollution of the oceans. I was alarmed to find out how many microplastics enter our wastewater system and consequently, the oceans. This inspired me to try and find out a way to try and remove microplastics from waters before they even reached the sea.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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