We reached Fionn via e-mail, at his home in Ballydehob, a small village in the South of Ireland with a great history and vitality, to understand more about his research and the future of its possible application. Here's what he told us.
Hi Fionn, first of all congratulations for the research. How do you feel as a main winner of the 2019 Google Science Fair edition?
I felt in disbelief but also excited. This award has made me feel excited because I think that there is an outlook for my project! I think that my method can be implemented on a wider scale.
Ballydehob, the place where you live and with a really ancient history, seems to be a relaxing place even if it seems also so active with many festivals during the year: how is living down there?
Ballydehob is a fantastic, inspirational village to live in. it has a great community spirit but is also close to nature. Because of this, we are all passionate about our environment here.
Fionn at his own self-made laboratory, at home. — (Thanks to Fionn Ferreira)
Now, coming to your research: a simple solution that can be the good way to remove micro-plastics on water. How it could be applied on a large scale (I mean: rivers, lakes, seas), from your perspective?
I am designing a continuous flow system where water would flow through a layer of ferro-fluid until it becomes saturated. It can then be removed using electromagnets.
Let’s talk about your continuous flow system for wastewater treatment: so, this is the “only” concrete application you see on your research? At now, at least? What about the micro-plastic already in the water ecosystem?
I think that there are many applications for this they include wastewater, but I also have a method which I think could work on ships and like this could be used in the marine environment. We must, however, tackle the problem at source first.
Do you see any critical aspects to make it real? (for example: few interest at the moment, too much interest at the moment and it’s difficult to choose the right partner/investor/other, money problem, law problem, I just wanna study Chemistry now, etc.)
I think that it is very difficult to choose the right investors and companies to go with. I need to learn more about chemistry. I believe that this is ready to be applied and will keep it open source for all companies to use—I mean I’ll keep my research and methods open-sourced for the rest of the World. Like this hopefully it will be put into use.
You made your experiments with various types of plastic, do you think it could be effective with all kind of micro-plastics?
I tested the 10 most commonly found micro-plastics in the environment: PET, LDPE, PP, HDPE, PS, PV, Nylon, Polyester and Acrylic. My result over thousands of tests was an average of 87% extraction.
Fionn Ferreira at the beach nearby his home — (Thanks to Fionn Ferreira)
How do you feel with the current climate crisis?
Here in Ireland, the environment is so close to our hearts. It would hurt me a lot to see it decline and disappear. I would love for future generations to see it just as I do.
We all need to act together. It must be a communal large scale action for us to have an effect. I think one of the greatest challenges is population increase. Every day the global population increases by 220,000. That means 220,000 more cars, clothes, wrappers and much more each day. Even if all these 220,000 are very eco-friendly they will still produce 220,000 people’s worth of waste extra each day.
I think we need to not only have a passion for our climate but also engage with it and cut bad habit and above all plastic.
Thanks Fionn, we wish you all the best for your future!
Thanks to you!
— Note: you can actively support the notable work of Fionn through a simple donation via his official website.