Microplastics are defined as plastic particles from one-thousandth of a millimeter to one millimeter in diameter. These small fragments of plastic come from different sources: cosmetics, clothing, and other industrial processes. Microplastics are now everywhere, even at sea. At this rate, by 2050, there will be more plastics in the sea than fish. That’s why we need to turn the tide, and an Irishman has found a way!
His name is Fionn Ferreira, he’s an 18-year- old Irish boy and he’s the winner of the latest Google Science Fair Grand Prize, the company’s award for the most famous internet search engine for little geniuses (14-18 years old). ) science. Fionn managed to outdo the 23 other projects participating in the competition. In a video, he explains how his idea was born: while walking along the beaches of his home country, he sometimes found small pieces of plastic. Armed with curiosity and love for the environment, the young man decided to find a way to clean up the sea.
image credit: Fionn Ferreira/YouTube
Fionn’s idea uses ferrofluid, that is, the particular liquid that polarizes in the presence of a magnetic field. The magnetic liquid created by the Irish genius is non-toxic and consists of oil and magnetite and in water is able to attract microplastics due to the non-polar properties of the two elements.
During the Google contest, Fionn showed a glass of water filled with small plastic particles. After a few seconds in contact with the ferrofluid, the glass was cleaned. Readings taken with the spectrometer (also built by Fionn) showed that plastic particles had decreased by 85%. With the 50,000 euros won thanks to the competition, Fionn intends to continue his experiments, in the hope of discovering an even more effective method against microplastics.
Finally, we may have found a way to get rid of the plastic fragments that invade our lives, but it’s good to remember that it’s even more important to stop polluting!