Irish teenager’s brilliant plan to clean pollution from the oceans wins prestigious award

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Fionn Ferreira

A teenage science whizz from Cork won a prestigious award after coming up with an ingenious way to clean up the oceans.

Fionn Ferreira won a €45,000 prize at the 2019 Google Science Fair which is one of the world’s leading STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) student competitions.

The 18-year-old’s idea to remove microplastic pollution from the ocean involves ‘ferrofluids’ which would stick to plastic molecules.

Fionn Ferreira

He told RTÉ: “My project is a new method to remove microplastics from water.

“Basically, it uses a magnetic liquid, ferrofluid, and this ferrofluid sticks to these plastic particles allowing them to be removed just using magnets so it’s kind of cool to watch.

“I’ve shown that this works on the ten most common types of microplastics and I’ve experimented with many more and now I’m just ready for it to be scaled up and actually used in waste water treatment to remove microplastics because we all know that this is a great issue in Ireland and all over the world.

“The judges think it’ll work, I think it’ll work, and I think with just a little bit of an oomph – it doesn’t even need a cash injection it just needs that recognition – I think we can implement it, it just needs to be scaled up a little bit.”

Fionn was one of 24 finalists, who were chosen from a shortlist of 100 regional entries.

As well as the money, there will be some exciting work opportunities on the horizon for the teenager.

He said: “This award would also include travel elements – there is several other trips involved with this award and working closely with the partners of this competition so Scientific American, National Geographic, Virgin Galactic and of course Lego too. So, all of things have perks and things.

“I want to go to a place that’s I guess at the forefront of renewable, sustainable technology and energy.”

A huge congratulations to Fionn from all of us at Ireland Calling.


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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcallingJoin our community