Ireland has given us the latest Google Science Fair winner in the age group of 13 through 18. Fionn Ferrier won the prestigious global annual science competition with his project which can remove microplastics from water.
Source: MKG/Google Science Fair
Ferrier won a $50,000 bursary at the California international headquarters of Google, beating 23 other finalists. Ferrier’s project experimented with an innovative method to extract microplastics from water.
Plastic has been a menace for our planet. We have been too slow to recognize its true impact on our environment. But now as we are all coming together in this battle, this teenager seems to be a fore-runner already!
Microplastics are plastic particles which have a diameter of less than 5mm. These are usually found in exfoliating facial scrubs, soaps, and shower gels. They are also known as microbeads and are also found in abrasive cleaners and toothpaste.
Video: Fionn Ferrier/YouTube
As the microbeads resemble food scraps, aquatic animals eat them, integrating them into the food chain. Europe currently has no filtering processes in any of its treatment centers of wastewater for microbeads. Ireland is working on legislation which will ban all export, import, sale, and manufacture of products which contain microplastics.
Ferrier has used a solution of oil with magnetic powder, ferrofluids, as well as magnets to remove the microplastics from his sample water. The experiment yielded a success rate of 87% in one thousand tests. Washing machine fibers were most affected and polypropylene plastics the least.
Ferrier is aware of the importance and need of his project and plans on expanding it on an industrial level.
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A student of Schull Community College, Cork, 18 years old Ferrier is now enrolled in a Netherlands university. This talented teenager works at the Schull Planetarium as a curator and has 12 awards from science fairs.
Besides academics, he can speak 3 languages and plays trumpet in an orchestra. MIT Lincoln Laboratory had also named a minor planet after him!
The future sure seems bright in such talented hands.
IMAGE CREDIT: Marcelo Alexandre Rabelo