Using acoustic waves can filter microplastics from contaminated water

Plastic pollution has become one of the major visible issues in the environment. But one of the most stubborn forms of ocean pollution is harder to see: microplastics

Plastic can’t biodegrade, but it breaks down into tiny pieces, resulting in microplastics. Smaller than 5mm in dimension.

Problem of Microplastics


Nowadays, a huge amount of microplastics are released into the environment that could harm human life, wildlife, and marine life. Even though we suffer from this microplastic garbage, the main victims are marine living beings. The majority of hundreds of millions of tons of plastic waste in our oceans is made up of microplastics.

All we know is that sources of these microplastics are cosmetics, plastic packagings, bottles, etc. The majority of these plastics are thrown away to water bodies and these plastics reach the ocean. Thus endangering marine life.


microplastic problem
microplastic problem


Even if we can reduce the usage of these items, there is always a limit. By filtering microplastics from contaminated seawater, we can offer a good life to marine living beings.

But filtering microplastics from seawater are much more complicated than we think.

But now, it is easier than before.


Sound as a solution

Dr. Dhany Arifianto from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember in Surabaya, Indonesia has created a prototype method for filtering microplastics from seawater and other water bodies.

Arfianto and his team created “acoustic waves” (sound waves that propagate through a substance) by using two speakers. 

The resultant force produced from acoustic waves separates microplastics from contaminated water.

There’s a tube that splits into three channels. When the speaker is ON and acoustic waves are produced, those microplastics in contaminated water are pressed towards the center channel and the filtered clean water is rushed towards two outer channels.

This prototyped filtration method cleaned almost 150 liters of water in an hour. 

This method was tested on three different microplastics and showed different efficiency. Even though the efficiencies are different, all were above 56% and in seawater, this will be above 59%.

Arfianto presented his sightings and data at the Meeting of the 181st Acoustical Society of America in Seattle.

But there are still some struggles to face and the advanced version of this method is in development.

There is concern about using these acoustic speakers near water bodies and the possibility of interfering with the life of living organisms sensitive to acoustic waves.

But this must be tested and proved.

“We believe further development is necessary to improve the cleaning rate, the efficiency, and particularly the safety of marine life,” said Dhany Arifianto.

So this proves that the filtration method mentioned here could be able to filter more contaminated water bodies in the future.

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