Science & Technology

Australian researchers use magnets to remove microplastics in water in 1 hour

Sydney, Australia, Nov 30 (EFE).- Researchers at RMIT University in the Australian city of Melbourne have developed a magnetic powder capable of removing microplastics from water in an hour.

The scientists say that the powder, made of nanomaterials containing iron, manages to attract microplastics without creating other polluting substances or carbon footprints, the university said in a statement Wednesday.

This material, which is made from recycled materials, is mixed with water containing microplastics.

After just an hour, the magnetic material easily separates microplastics and polluting substances from the water.

“This whole process takes one hour, compared to other inventions taking days,” Muhammad Haris, the first author and PhD candidate from the School of Engineering, said.

“Our powder additive can remove microplastics that are 1,000 times smaller than those that are currently detectable by existing wastewater treatment plants,” lead researcher, Professor Nicky Eshtiaghi, said.

The research, published in the Chemical Engineering Journal, has successfully tested the adsorbents in the laboratory and the scientists are now seeking to collaborate with industry “to further develop the innovation to remove microplastics from waterways,” according to the statement.

The researchers say that the powder could be a cost-effective way to reduce the millions of tonnes of plastic and microplastics that are dumped into the sea every year.

More than 80 percent of the plastic that ends up in the world’s oceans comes from land-based sources.

Although plastic debris such as bottles, bags and other products is visible in the water, particles smaller than five millimeters cannot be seen with the naked eye nor be eliminated by treatment plants, so they end up in the seas where they cause damage to marine species. EFE


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