Every year, humanity throws into the ocean up to 14million tons of plastic, 40 percent of which is considered “fresh.” That is, it falls into the water during the same year in which it was produced. And if this figure does not scare you, then here's a simple example: there are more pieces of plastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy. However, most of this plastic is not biodegradable at all (or decomposes very poorly). On average, plastic decomposes from 100 to 1000 years. And this is a real problem, because plastic already causes the death of many inhabitants of the seas and oceans. However, scientists seem to have a solution to this problem.
How to remove plastic from the ocean?
The easiest solution to start would belimit its production, arrange for utilization and begin to produce normal biodegradable and environmentally friendly species of this material. But what to do with the exorbitant amount of plastic that is already in the oceans? In a new study published in the journal Matter, scientists describe a new type of technology that could help: tiny magnetic "nano-coils", which are catalysts for chemical reactions that can break down plastic. And not on harmful components, such as during combustion, but on carbon dioxide and water.
Tiny magnetic coils smaller than one millimeter that can destroy microplastics
The metal coils themselves are coated with nitrogen anda magnetic metal called manganese. These two chemical compounds interact with nanocoils to create highly active oxygen molecules, which in turn “attack” the plastic. As a result, carbon dioxide, water and a number of neutral salts are produced that are not dangerous for living organisms.
See also: How much microplastics does a person eat in a year?
To test the work of their invention, scientistsadded nanocoils to water samples contaminated with microplastic (very small particles of plastic) so that the process goes faster. As a result, over 8 hours, scientists observed a decrease in the concentration of microplastic in the region from 30 to 50 percent in different water samples. In this case, the coils are easily removed from the water with a conventional magnet. Well, the coils themselves, of course, can be reused.
Our current study is still onstages of evidence of the concept’s health, scientists say. But already at this stage we can say that our approach works. Of course, you need to test the coils in more suitable conditions and more accurately study the composition of water after 100% plastic decay. But we hope that our research will succeed.
I would like to add that the resultingthe effects of coils are not dangerous (according to scientists) salts really require further detailed study. After all, even if they are not dangerous in themselves (which, again, has not yet been proven), then they can join with other substances and form much more complex compounds that can already pose a threat.
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