The problem of microplastics it’s getting more and more serious. A British engineering student has designed a robot fish called gillbertwhich uses its gills to filter food microplastics of the river or the sea. There is already an operational prototype.
For decades we have suffered pollution that produce the plastics that reach the sea. But in recent years a new type of pollution has come to light: microplastics.
The water, the sun, the wind and the microorganisms are degrading the plastic dumped in the ocean until turning it into tiny particles less than 0.5 centimeters long known as microplastics. These particles are ingested by plankton, bivalves, fish and even whales, who mistake them for food.
This ingested plastic produces different types of problems Y diseases to marine faunaand also to human beings, since when we eat fish and shellfish from seas and rivers, we also we ingest microplastics that they have absorbed.
A robot fish that eats microplastics
We still do not fully know the effects of nanoplastics in animal and human organisms. But considering that most are toxicand are deposited in the organs and blood, its effect is harmful.
The University of Surrey, in the United Kingdom, organizes the Natural Robotics Contest, where prizes are awarded to robots that imitate nature. This year’s winner was the Robo-pez project by chemistry student Eleanor Mackintosh.
Eleanor has proposed a robot fish that filters microplastics through their gills. She’s not an engineer, so experts from the University of Surrey have taken her idea and built a prototype of it. robot fish that filters the microplasticswhich Eleanor herself has baptized with the name of gillbert. You can see it in the opening video of the news.
This robor fish measures half a meter. It swims by flicking its tail while keeping its mouth open to collect water (and microplastics) in its internal cavity.
Once the cavity is full, the robot closes its mouth and opens its lamellar gill valves, pushing water out of the valves and raising the bottom of the cavity.
It has pectoral fins, a motor for the gills and mouth, gill rake, particle mesh, independent fin motor, tail fin drive rod, tail fin motor, battery and microcontroller, and sensors that detect light levels and turbidity (clarity) of the water.
gillbert can pick up microplastics from up to 2 millimeters in size.
For this system to be effective, thousands, millions of these robots would be needed. But the idea is not to use them to eliminate microplastics, but to capture a few and analyze them. In this way you can know what microplastics Y with what density affect certain areas.
gillbertthe robot fish that filters the microplastics with their gutsis the idea of a chemistry student, which has come true with the help of a group of expert engineers.