Micro-plastic waste filter for sea water wins Silver at Science Week

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Arkilaus Bellinus “Billy” Felle, Berliana Nur Indah Sari, Laila Sifha Urrohma and Dian Permana
Arkilaus Bellinus Felle, Nur Indah Sari, Dr. Dhany Arifanto, Laila Sifha Urrohma, and Dian Permana; the prototype for the flter to clean water of micro-plastic pollution and the prototype testing scheme (insert). Photo: ITS

Surabaya, IO – Arkilaus Bellinus “Billy” Felle, Berliana Nur Indah Sari, Laila Sifha Urrohma and Dian Permana, students from the November 10th Institute of Technology Surabaya’s Department of Physics Engineering, won a silver medal in the Poster category of the Craftsmanship Creativity Student Program’s National Student Science Week 2021 in late November. Under the guidance of Dr. Dhany Arifanto, the team created an innovative water filter, described in the thesis titled “Construction Design for Bulk Acoustic Wave-Based Filter for Water Contaminated with Micro-plastics.”

Indonesian Plastic Industry Association (Asosiasi Industri Plastik Indonesia – “INAPLAS”) and Statistics Indonesia data records that 3.2 million tons of plastic waste is discarded into the sea every year. This waste will be degraded into micro-plastic grains, which will contaminate the marine biota food chain and eventually become hazardous for human consumption. “The Government has yet to apply any technology to reduce and mitigate micro-plastic waste,” said Team Chairman Billy in a release received by the Independent Observer on Saturday (04/12/2021).

The filter uses an acoustic wave generated from a speaker to separate micro-plastic particles from sea water. “As per its name, micro-plastic particles are tiny and require special methods to filter out,” Billy said. “The device is able to filter out any type and shape of micro-plastic particle, whether in plain or saline water. As it uses acoustic waves, it does not use mechanical means of filtering. There is no “filter” to be cleaned regularly, and it is more long-lasting to use. Finally, this innovation satisfies point 14 of the global Sustainable Development Goals, i.e. preserving our marine ecosystem.”

The device works by first pumping the water into the device using acrylic pipes. The sea water is channeled through the acrylic pipes in the center, and exposed to the sounds created by two full range speakers flanking the pipe. The sound from the speaker will generate a pushing force called the “acoustophoretic force”.

“The most efficient frequency for the sound emitted by the speaker is 6,813 Hz. The pipe branches into three channels on the exit end. The micro-plastic particles will collect in the central channel, while the filtered water will be channeled back to the sea from the left and right channels. It only takes 1-2 minutes to filter particles with a maximum efficiency rate of 71%,” Billy said.

“We need to adjust water pressure, flow speed, and contact duration between particles to ensure that the cleaned water is flowed out the left and right channels instead of getting mixed back up with the micro-plastic. We do our calculations and simulations using the Matlab software. We certainly hope that we can develop this innovation properly, and not let it get stuck in this Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology program.”

Finally, Billy tells other students who would like to participate in the upcoming National Student Science Weeks to always do their best. “Always make use of any chance you come across to the maximum, no matter how small that opportunity may seem to you at first,” he said. (est)