Teenager Wins $50,000 Prize For Invention That Removes Microplastics From Water

A teenager may have just solved a huge global issue.

Google has awarded a teenager from Ireland $50,000 for his science fair invention that removes microplastics from water.

The teenager, Fionn Ferreira, an 18-year-old from West Cork, Ireland, created a fluid that successfully bound itself to microplastics. He used magnetite properties to create the fluid, giving it magnetic properties and then used a magnet to extract the fluid and the microplastics from water. 

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"I look forward to applying my findings and contributing towards a solution in tackling microplastics in our oceans worldwide," Ferreira told the Irish Times.

Microplastics have become a huge focus globally, as research continues to mount that they are polluting the oceans, harming our environment and being found in sources of human and animal food. Ferreira's method was 87 percent effective across 1,000 tests from both fresh and salt water. His hope is to scale the idea so it can be used in wastewater plants, which could stop microplastics from ever reaching the ocean, Forbes reported.

Vint Cerf, vice-president at Google, offered encouraging words to Ferreira and other students who participated.

"Behind every ambitious student are parents and teachers who cheer them on and push them to keep learning," he said. "And to the students, you rock. We can't wait to see what you do next."

Cover photo: Shutterstock / MikeDotta

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