A young Irishman has devised his own “genius scientific method” to solve the riddle of microplastic pollution, winning Google’s international science fair in the process.
By mixing magnetized iron oxide and vegetable oil, he created a kind of liquid magnet that collects microplastics that can then be removed by magnetism, leaving only sparkling water.
There is nothing like growing up in a pristine environment to propel someone to your defense, and an article on young Fionn Ferreira from southern Ireland details how, since age 12, he has been searching for a solution for the most difficult. -the clean microplastics that he knew accompanied the increasing amount of plastic garbage that used to end up on the beaches he frequented during his childhood.
“I was on our beach and I saw a rock that had oil spill residue, and attached to this oil spill residue were plastic particles,” Fionn says in a video presentation for the Plastic Soup Foundation.
“I wondered why this was happening and discovered that plastic particles are what we call nonpolar, and so is oil. In chemistry, tastes attract likes, which means that nonpolar things attract nonpolar things. “
He heard of something called ferrofluid, which was a kind of magnetic water that combined vegetable oil with magnetized iron oxide powder. In the same presentation video, he shows that the oil attracted the microplastics and the immersion of a magnet absorbed the batch.
“I started out as a lonely inventor,” Ferreira told the BBC. “After the Google Science Fair, I was suddenly able to talk to scientists, they gave me credit for what I had done. My idea was no longer a toy invented by a child ”.
In fact, after 5,000 tests, his method was shown to be able to clean between 87% and 93% of microplastics from the water, even though the microplastics came from a variety of sources, such as car tires, plastic bottles. and laundry water.
He demonstrated his method at the 2019 Google Science Fair and won a $ 50,000 scholarship, which used to go to study chemistry at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Fionn is now trying to fit his method into a device that can span the opening of a domestic water pipe or the pipes of a sewage plant, allowing the ferrofluid to continuously clean the water moving through it, as well as a different machine that can be mounted on boats.
“He looked at and addressed a problem that he saw locally and that has great global significance,” Larissa Kelly, Ferreira’s former science professor at Schull Community College, told the BBC. “His invention, based on very simple components, is pioneering. It has great potential to provide solutions that will contribute to the global effort to remove microplastics from the environment. “
(LOOK the Plastic soup video of this story below.)
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