Microplastics are a danger to both marine animals and us humans. Chinese researchers have now developed a robotic fish to solve this problem.
Sichuan – The sea can become an important aspect of energy generation for mankind. For example, various researchers have been working for a long time on hydroelectric power plants that can generate electricity solely through the power of the waves. Equally, therefore, the oceans and the animals and plants living in them must be protected.
However, the sad truth is that there are now up to 18,000 pieces of plastic of various sizes floating on every square kilometer of sea surface. This is not only a danger for sea creatures, but also for us humans – they accumulate in our bodies and are harmful to our health. However, Chinese scientists have now turned their attention to the problem of microplastics and developed a creative idea to combat ocean pollution.
Researchers are developing robotic fish designed to collect microplastics in the sea
Microplastics in the sea is one of the biggest and most complex problems. It arises from plastic waste or gets into rivers and seas via the sewage system through cosmetics or the abrasion of synthetic clothing when washing, writes t3n.de. Researchers at the Chinese University of Sichuan have now developed a robotic fish for this purpose. It is just 13 millimeters tall, but programmed to remove microplastics from the oceans.
At a speed of 30 millimeters per second – which roughly corresponds to the speed at which plankton drift through the water – the robotic fish will hunt for the small particles in the sea. It itself consists of a material that is harmless to the marine ecosystem. The Chinese researchers were inspired by the layered structure of mother-of-pearl.
The robotic fish can be controlled using a near-infrared laser. By turning the laser on and off, the “tail fin” flaps back and forth, mimicking the movements of a real fish, writes t3n magazine . The microplastic sticks to its body as the fish moves through the water. What is also special is that the material of the robotic fish can heal itself up to 89 percent if injuries occur.
Not yet marketable: So far, the robotic fish is only a prototype
So far, the developed robotic fish is only a prototype. For the time being, more research is needed to make the product marketable, said Yuyan Wang, a researcher at the Polymer Research Institute of Sichuan University and one of the lead authors of the study. In this context, it must first be proven to what extent the robotic fish is really efficient. Special water filters that fish the microplastics out of the sea are currently more practical and cheaper. However, given the high amount of garbage in the ocean, any solution is certainly helpful.