An Irish student from County Cork has created a method of removing microplastic particles from water. 

Fionn Ferreira, a 22-year-old chemistry masters student from Ballydehob in west Cork, has recently patented the new method and said he was inspired after seeing so much plastic washing up on the shore while growing up. 

According to the United Nations, there are currently 51 trillion microplastic particles in the world's oceans and seas.

Ferreira, who is a recent recipient of a European Inventors Award, told RTÉ News that he resolved to come up with a solution after seeing so much plastic wash up near his childhood home. 

He said plastic that ends up in the sea is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces until it is eventually ingested by organisms. 

The Cork man's invention was backed by Ironman himself, Hollywood star, Robert Downey Jr's climate tech venture capital company, Footprint Coalition, which aided him to prototype and improve his method.

Ferreira's technique uses a magnetic liquid mixture that binds to microplastics and separates them from the water. The microplastics can then be removed from the water using magnets. 

Earlier this year Ferreira told the Irish Independent, "The severity of the situation was overwhelming, and I felt an intense sense of urgency to comprehend the grave risks it poses. The fact that these plastics disintegrate into minuscule fragments, ultimately infiltrating our food chain and water, is having a devastating effect on our health."

The method removes roughly 85% of microplastics from water and is safe to use in drinking water. 

Ferreira told RTÉ that his method is one solution to the high volume of microplastics in water but said preventing plastics from entering the water would be even more effective. 

"I felt like I had to do something."

Meet the young Co Cork inventor who is making waves after developing an award-winning solution for removing microplastics from water |

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 11, 2023

"What I do think is that the major thing we need to try is to stop letting plastics get into the water in the first place," Ferreira told RTÉ News. 

"We can only achieve that by trying to eliminate single-use plastics, change policies around plastics, and make plastic breakdown and degrade a lot quicker." 

Ferreira added that every "single creative idea" must be considered if microplastics are the be removed from the seas and oceans of the world.