Scientists Say New Device Can Scrub 99.9 Percent of Microplastics From Water
Sep 02, 2023
Scientists have developed a new technique that filters out microplastics from drinking water — and its ingredients are all plant-based.
Crafted by researchers out of Canada's University of British Columbia and China's Sichuan University, the "bioCap" purifying filter is comprised of compounds from fruit and wood that are able to eliminate almost all microplastics in water.
Using fruit tannins — the chemicals that make under-ripe fruit taste bad — coated over sawdust, the researchers were able to create a cylindrical water filtration device that eliminates between 95.2 and 99.9 percent of microplastics depending on what they're made of.
That's a huge deal for anyone who's paid attention to the news in the past few years because microplastics are being found everywhere scientists look for them: in our bodies, our water, our food, and even the skies.
To test the system, the team of forestry, chemistry, and biological engineering researchers gave groups of mice either drinking water purified with the bioCap or untreated water. In the mice that got the purified water, "the process was proven to prevent the accumulation of microplastics in the organs," a press release claims.
What's perhaps most exciting about the bioCap device is that even at its least efficient, per a study published in the journal Advanced Materials earlier this year, it still managed to eliminate the vast majority of microplastic materials.
"There are [microfibers] from clothing, microbeads from cleansers and soaps, and foams and pellets from utensils, containers, and packaging," Dr. Orlando Rojas, the scientific director of UBC's BioProducts Institute, said in the school's press release. "By taking advantage of the different molecular interactions around tannic acids, our bioCap solution was able to remove virtually all of these different microplastic types."
Whether it needs to be scaled up for industrial use — or down for home use — Rojas said that the bioCap is an ideal solution because it's made of organic materials and does not lead to "further pollution" like plastic filters do.
It's an excellent proposal for a deceptively simple solution — and hopefully, people in power concerned about the alarming findings from microplastics research will listen.
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