Microplastics are a serious problem on our planet. They are tiny particles, less than 5 millimeters in diameter, and are found in our air, water, and even in our bodies. Scientists estimate there are at least 14 million metric tons of microplastics on the ocean floor, and while all kinds of plastic debris are considered bad for the environment, these ones are especially hard to detect and remove because of their miniscule size. A German company called Wasser 3.0, however, thinks it may have found the answer to cleaning up microplastic pollution before it reaches the ocean – using a whirlpool and a specially designed hybrid silica gel. The process involves creating a vortex in a tank of water. A compound, called Wasser 2.0 PE-X, is added which acts as a clumping agent, drawing together any microplastics into popcorn-shaped lumps that rise to the surface and can be skimmed off using a sieve. Wasser 3.0 wants the technology to be used as a new step in sewage treatment plants or industrial processes. The company is a nonprofit and it reinvests any proceeds back into research. “Our mission is to keep the world’s water supply safe,” said Dr. Katrin Schuhen, inventor and founder of Wasser 3.0.

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