Micro-plastics are tiny pieces of plastic that pollute the Earth; being so minute, they resist the regular clean-up and many times, even get buried below the surfaces. From the past few years, getting rid of these harmful particles was a big challenge for humans. However, the great news is engineering students from the Canadian University of Sherbrooke- Quebec, recently designed a vacuum that can separate the harmful micro-plastics from the surrounding environment.
This vacuum is named Ho’ōla One, and the students recently tested it at Kamilo Beach, on the Big Island, located on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii. It is known for its excess accumulation of plastic marine debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The results were remarkable, removing roughly 230-pounds of micro-plastics in a few days.
As it is a prototype project developed by students, the machine at the present stage is very complicated, massive, and heavy. It has a large frame of vacuum that requires special arrangements for transportation via a heavy vehicle. However, reports reveal that the trial for this vacuum was successful.
To clean the beach area from plastic waste, it sucks up the sand around and deposits that into the water vats. In this process, the sand, as its general nature, automatically sinks to the vat bottom, whereas the micro-plastics start floating on the top. The technique of separating micro-plastics is quite simple and effective.
During an interview, one of the team members stated it is difficult to pick up all the micro-plastics by hand. He wanted to help the environment and clean the oceans; therefore, he started doing some in-depth research regarding the issue. He soon realized that no such machines had been designed worldwide to handle the problem.
We need to take prompt steps to deal with micro-plastics due to their harmful toxins. Once they are supplemented to sources of water, marine animals ingest them, inflicts pain upon them, and causes the death of millions of marine animals every year.
Beaches all over the world are burdened with lots of plastic waste. The ocean waves keep on collecting the micro-plastics from the shores. A considerable amount of plastic waste also goes to the landfills, and then it is carried by the strong winds to various sources of water. The estimated range of plastic waste that goes into the oceans every year is somewhere around 8 million tons, causing vast amounts harm to marine life.
With time, plastic waste also breaks down into micro-plastics and slowly the plastic becomes indestructible. In such situations, the efforts for the development of Ho’ōla One to deal with this issue are appreciable. The engineering skills are working in the direction of nature, and these efforts may contribute to saving the planet.
The students are also interested in making other versions of this machine that could be more efficient and smaller to handle micro-plastics around the world. More such developments must be initiated worldwide, to save the Earth and marine life.