Fionn Ferreira, 18, has been presented with a $50,000 Google Science award for his microplastic removal solution that could cheaply and efficiently clean most microplastics from the ocean.
He invented a magnetic liquid that attracts microplastics, separating them from the water. Fionn used recycled vegetable oils and magnetite powder to replicate ‘ferrofluid’, a technique used by NASA in 1963 to keep rocket fuel moving in zero gravity.
When Fionn adds his liquid to fluid containing microplastics, the water turns black. Inserting and retrieving a magnet appears to pull out the oil and the microparticles together, leaving clear water behind. His method removed up to 88% of polypropylene during testing… notoriously hard to remove.
Learn more about microplastics and waste here!