An Irish teenager has just won the prestigious Google Science Fair Grand Prize for his ingenious method of extracting microplastics from water.

Thousands of participants between the ages 14 to 18 entered this year’s contest. Out of the 24 international finalists, 18-year-old Fionn Ferreira was named the winner for his technique of using magnets and ferrofluids—a combination of oil and magnetite powder—to collect the tiny bits of plastic from water samples.

Since most microplastics measure less than 5 millimeters in diameter, it is impossible to prevent the small pollutants from ending up in oceans, lakes, and urban waterways using typical filtration methods.

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According to The Journal, there are currently no microplastic filtration systems being utilized in any of Europe’s wastewater treatment plants.

However, Fionn was able to use his ferrofluid method to collect 87% of microplastics from his water samples in 1,000 different tests.

Now that he has been awarded Google’s $50,000 grand prize, the teen from West Cork hopes to start implementing his filtration technique in wastewater treatment plants so the microplastic pollutants won’t ever reach the ocean.

(WATCH Fionn’s contest entry video below) – Photo by Google Science Fair

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