Microplastic solution wins Google science award

An 18-year-old from Ireland has developed a method that can remove microplastics from water using a non-toxic magnetic liquid. He has now received the grand prize at the Google Science Fair for his idea.

Our water – and consequently, our oceans – are full of microplastics, harming fish and other marine animals and even ending up on our plates. At present, there is no screening or filtering for microplastics in any European wastewater treatment centres.

Fionn Ferreira, an 18-year-old from Ireland who lives near the seashore, has now developed a method that uses ferro fluids to remove microplastics from water before they even reach the sea. He explains that his method was inspired by an article on using non-toxic iron oxide to clean up oil-spills.

He tested his extraction method on the ten most commonly found microplastics. The results showed that nearly 88 per cent of microplastics in water can be effectively removed this way. It was most effective on fibres obtained from a washing machine. Ferreira now hopes to scale his method up to an industrial scale.

On Monday, Ferriera was awarded the $50,000 grand prize at the Google Science Fair for his idea.

Image credit: MPCA Photos via Flickr

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