Bright and undaunted teenagers may just save us yet! Fionn Ferriera had the ingenious idea to use magnets to filter microplastics from water and he found that when he did, they removed at least 85%. Using a magnetic liquid called ferrofluid, which adheres to plastic and then is attracted to the magnets and removed from the water. He conducted thousands of tests and found that his method proved highly reliable. The idea came to him when he was walking along the shore near his home and he saw plastic pieces stuck to oil and he realized that he needed to find something that the tiny bits of plastic (too small to be screened out of water) would adhere to before they flow from streams into the ocean.
Fionn is 18 years old and grew up in Ballydehob in West Cork, Ireland and as the overall winner this year of the annual science competition open to students all around the world between the ages of 13 and 18 he took home a $50,000 prize to pay for further education. “I look forward to applying my findings and contributing towards a solution in tackling microplastics in our oceans worldwide,” he told Irish Times.