Fionn Ferreira is a teenager who managed to extract microplastics from water using ferrofluids (a combination of oil and magnetite powder) and magnets.
With his project, Ferreira was the overall winner of the 2019 Google Science Fair – a prestigious annual global science competition open to students who are 13 to 18 years old.
Microplastic is a big problem of our era. It is found literally everywhere someone looked, and our clothing is the main culprit. Polyester clothes (like yoga pants, or sweaters) are releasing millions of microplastic fibres every time we do laundry.
According to a study led by Jennifer Brandon, published in Limnology and Oceanography Letters, for every 1000 liters of ocean water, there are 8.3 million pieces of microplastics. The scary part is that this number is five to seven times bigger than what was previously estimated.
Ferreira thinks that his invention will be implemented so that it captures microplastics from wastewater before it reaches the open water. It would be a ferrofluid-based system used by water treatment and sewage facilities to capture microplastics.
So, we are still searching for a solution that would completely extract the microplastics from the water. Meanwhile, we can continue to work on stopping the problem at its source: plastic clothes.
And, if you want to contribute (and at the same time improve your personal Ethicuette) just choose not to buy plastic clothes.