Eco-friendly filter removes micro and nano plastics from water

A growing environmental and public health crisis may be dealt with by a new technology capable of catching even the smallest particles. 

An eco-friendly filter has been created which can trap and remove micro and nano-sized plastics from water, offering some hope it may be possible to turn the tide on the plastics crisis currently unfolding in seas, oceans, rivers, lakes and other water systems across the world. 

white red yellow and blue plastic straw lot

A research team at the Department of Energy Science and Engineering of Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, and the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, led on research and development of the system, which overcomes several issues that have rendered previous designs inoperable. These include filter clogging, and environmental pollution caused by the device itself when physically removed from water, obstacles that cause far greater problems when dealing with nano-particles, which are smaller than microns. 

The new innovation uses electrophoresis to remove plastics from water systems, with energy generated physically and locally, meaning there is no need for an external power source and therefore no limit on where the filter can be used. In testing, 21.4% of micro-sized plastic particles were removed, a huge leap on existing systems that topped out at 3.8%. The technology can also remove micro-toxic particles including nano-sized zinc oxide and silicon dioxides.

In April, research by the Alfred Wegener Institute painted a stark picture of the plastic pollution problem, with the Arctic Ocean found to have quantities of plastic comparable to densely populated regions of the world. 

Image credit: FLY:D


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