Infrared optics detects garbage and takes a picture. (Image via Anna Du)


Anna Du, a sixth-grade inventor, has come with the idea that could potentially help to clean up the ocean from microplastic pollutants.  She and nine other young inventors were recently selected as finalists in the 2018 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.


10 innovators had been invited to the challenge where they'd have a chance of winning $25,000 and a mentorship from a 3M scientists. All they'd have to do is submit a short video outlining their ideas for a solution to face ordinary everyday problems.

Young inventor, Du, invented something extraordinary - an underwater vehicle that's controlled via remote controls that detects, photographs and removes microplastics in the water by the use of infrared light. This is all done without the worry or hassle of interfering with aquatic life.


The idea of using infrared light was chosen because it can help to determine what is microplastic from what isn't hazardous underwater. This allows scientists to look at it without sending samples over to a lab.


A unique feature of the product is the mathematical algorithm that's being used to help identify microplastics.


The large amount of plastics in the ocean is an obvious problem, but that issue extends further when marine life consume the plastic, digest it, and the remnants reside in their bodies. This is especially harmful because those microplastics contain a toxin called bisphenol A. It's not only aquatic life that suffers from the consumption of plastic, however. Humans also face health risks by consuming fish that have already digested the plastics.


The device extends to 25 feet in the water, but Du is hoping to extend it even further in the future as development progresses.


Boyat Slat's collection station. (via The Ocean Cleanup)


Boyat Slat has been working on something similar, but much bigger and a bit different. He and his team of Ocean Cleanup crew have developed an innovation to remove most of the garbage from the ocean's water by using floating filtration platforms anchored to the floors and by using massive floating booms attached to the platforms.


With the use of booms instead of nets, a larger portion of the ocean can be covered, and smaller particles can be taken out of the water. The devices can take advantage of ocean currents and allow the garbage to float through the water and to the platforms, allowing it to be removed.


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