New sound wave technology can isolate the microplastic particles in our washing machines. The system called Bulk Acoustic Wave (BAW) is designed by a group of researchers led by professors Hiroshi Moriwaki and Yoshitake Akiyama from Shinshu University in Japan. Their paper is published in the journal Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical
A bulk acoustic wave (BAW) device was designed to have three channels: the two channels on the side and one middle channel.
By using sound waves appropriate for the length, diameter, and compressibility of the microplastic, debris is collected in the middle channel. The two channels on the side are used to expel clean water.
In the laboratory setting BAW system was able to capture 95% of the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibers, and 99% of Nylon 6 fibers. This method does not collect all the microplastic fibre, as some sank due to gravity.
The scientists are now working on a technique to speed up the microplastics-separation process, as it would currently take the washing machine quite a long time to drain.
Also, further development is needed to capture nano plastics smaller than 100nm in diameter.
The best option remains not to use plastic clothes at all. Use Ethicuette and other 100% organic and zero plastic clothes.