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Irish Teen’s Magnetic Solution To Ocean Microplastic Problem Nets Major Google Science Prize

30th July 2019
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Fionn Ferreira is the winner of the 2019 Google Science Fair Fionn Ferreira is the winner of the 2019 Google Science Fair

An ingenious technique of using magnetic fluids to filter microplastic from water has netted a West Cork student a major world science award, as The Irish Times reports.

Eighteen-year-old Fionn Ferreira from Ballydehob topped a group of 24 finalists from around the globe to win the 2019 Google Science Fair — an accolade that also comes with a $50,000 educational bursary.

Ferreira, who has just completed his Leaving Cert and was a regular BT Young Scientist entrant at school, experimented with ferrofluid, which adheres to plastic, to see if it would help clear water samples of microplastic.

His findings showed that at least 87% of microplastic could be removed from a given sample — and he is eager to see his research applied in a bigger setting.

The Irish Times has more on the story, and Google has further details on Fionn’s research HERE.

WM Nixon adds: Fionn Ferreira comes from a creative and talented background in Ballydehob – his mother is craft worker Anke Ekhart while his father is the highly-skilled classic boat-builder Rui Ferreira, who has breathed remarkable new life into some old craft, and is noted for building new classics to the highest standards – one of his latest creations is the Dublin Bay Water Wag No 50 Hilda for Martin & Triona Byrne of Dun Laoghaire, which some observers reckon is the best Water Wag ever built in the class’s 132 year history.

rui ferreira Renowned Ballydehob classic boat-builder Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob – seen here with the Dublin Bay Water Wag Hilda which he completed this year for Martin & Triona Byrne of Dun Laoghaire – is father of award-winning junior scientific inventor Fionn Ferreira. Photo: Ian Malcolm

Published in Marine Science
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

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