Teen wins 2019 Google Science Fair for ‘Solution to plastic free ocean’

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Fionn Ferreira is an 18 years old teenager from West Cork, Ireland who recently won the ‘2019 Google Science Award,’ after he found a way to remove microplastics from water.  With the plastic being the main pollution source right now on Earth, the boy’s revolutionary method might be a lifeline for our planet’s oceans.

Google Science Fair was launched in 2011 and it offers a great opportunity to youngsters aged 13 to 18 to present their genius scientific ideas. The winners are also awarded with a  $50,000 prize.

This year, Fionn’s project was to remove miscroplastics from water using oil and magnetite(a non-toxic iron oxide) the Business Insider reports.

According to teen’s project, “the iron oxide creates a ferro-fluid out of the oil and magnetite mixture allowing it to be easily and efficiently removed from water. I used this method in the extraction of microplastics by adding oil to a suspension containing a known quantity of microplastics. These then migrated into the oil phase. Magnetite powder was added.

“The resulting microplastic containing ferro-fluid was removed using strong magnets. The hypothesis was that this extraction method would remove 85% or higher of microplastics in samples,” the 18-year-old wrote.

Microplastics are defined as extremely tiny, less than 5 nanometres plastic pieces. Being so tiny, it impossible to be filtered, therefore these tiny particles are extremely dangerous pollution factors. Despite being so tiny they represent a real threat especially for marine environments and therefore the human being too.

Since the experiment was a real success, Fionn declared himself very proud of his work. A really hard one if we’re thinking he needed to conduct 1,000 tests for his method to be accepted. In 87% percent of the cases, the microplastics have been removed. And incredible rate what blown away even Fionn’s mentor teacher.

“It was startling. I wasn’t expecting to find as much as we did,” Christian Dunn at Bangor University, Wales, who led the work, told The Guardian. “It is quite depressing they were there in some of our country’s most iconic locations. I’m sure Wordsworth would not be happy to discover his beloved Ullswater in the Lake District was polluted with plastic.”

According to the Business Insider, the teenager will receive $50,000 and STEM-related educational opportunities as a 2019 Google Science Fair winner.