20-year-old Fionn Ferreira grew up kayaking around the southwest coast of Ireland and saw first-hand the devastating effects of microplastic ocean pollution.
Flabbergasted by the sheer amount of plastic lining the shores, he decided to learn more about the 300 million tonnes of plastic waste humans produce annually. He discovered the most dangerous type of plastic is the invisible kind, microplastics, tiny microscopic fragments that end up inside fish and our bodies.
It’s said that we ingest around 5 grams of plastic every week, that about the same as a credit card, all from the food we eat and the water we consume.
If this wasn’t worrying enough microscopic plastic particles are also shed from synthetic textiles and carpets.
Ferreira noticed that residue from an oil spill attracted the plastic particles. He then set out to design a device that used ferrofluid, a type of magnetic liquid in a bid to remove plastic particles from drinking water.
In 2019, he had a prototype that removed 87% of microplastics from a water sample and from this, he won the grand prize at the Google Science Fair.
Ferreria is now a chemistry student a the University of Groningen and working with an Ohio-based company to perfect his invention for domestic use and potentially in water waste-treatment plants as well.
“I love the process of inventing and doing things for the planet,” he says, “and there are many more ideas in the pipeline.”
Would you buy this microplastic pollution solution?