Microplastics are defined as plastics that are 1-5 microns in diameter and due to their small size, can pose many health concerns. These microplastic contaminants are commonly found in drinking water and can pass through conventional filters. Once ingested, microplastics can diffuse into the bloodstream and cause various health problems. The consumption of microplastic contaminants has been linked to reproductive harm, obesity, organ problems, and developmental delays in children. Our customer, Dr. Greg Madejski, has developed a method for filtering microplastics out of water samples using a nano-porous silicon membrane. Once these plastics are filtered, they need to be identified and classified into their respective plastic subtypes.
Our team has designed a microplastic identification device that will identify microplastic contaminants by utilizing their inherent differences in melting temperatures. By subjecting a mix of microplastics to various temperatures and recording which microplastics melt at which temperatures, we can determine what type of plastics are in the sample. By defining what type of plastics these microplastics are, we can determine what larger objects they come from. This will help to identify the source of microplastics so measures can be taken to reduce microplastic contaminants in drinking water.