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06th Jun 2018

Has this Irish teenager found a solution to a huge environmental issue?

The plastic epidemic is sweeping the globe, with disastrous consequences.

More and more plastic is leaking into our natural ecosystems, like the world’s oceans. This results in the deterioration of plants and death of wildlife.

One Irish student thinks he may have found the answer to this major issue and is hoping to eradicate the damage that plastic is causing the planet.

Fionn Ferreira, a 17-year-old student from Schull Community College recently presented his idea at the world’s largest pre-college science fair.

He hugely impressed top scientists with his inventive idea for removing microplastics from the water.

Fionn’s idea involves the use of a magnet to take away plastic particles from the oceans.

Speaking to Green,

“I was always interested in environmental issues, but my biggest concern was always plastic pollution, however, when I tested my project at home, and I was able to remove the plastics [from water], that’s when I became really interested in microplastics pollution”.

The secondary school student discovered a genius and cost-efficient solution, in the admixture of oil and magnetite powder. The combination of oil and magnetite makes the plastic entirely magnetic and easy to remove from the water.

“The microplastics can be removed with the magnet, and the magnetic fluid called ferrofluid can be re-used several times.”

He has tested his prototype and the results show that his magnet has the capacity of extracting 87 per cent of microplastics from the water. This would make massive improvements to the current condition of our natural water sources.

The teenager has had a lot of interest in his new invention and might be the next big name in the fight against climate change.

Fionn is no doubt going to have a fantastic future in scientific research. He recently won the American Chemical Society Prize of $4000 and an Undergraduate Scholarship from the University of Arizona.

If his new idea can be put into practice we could see a dramatic change in how plastic impacts the world around us and finally be on track to tackle one of our most hazardous environmental issues.