Problematična je predvsem plastika za enkratno uporabo. Foto: Pradip Paswan/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0
Problematična je predvsem plastika za enkratno uporabo. Foto: Pradip Paswan/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

A robotic fish that collects microplastics

Problems encourage us to find imaginative solutions!

Ever since we started dealing with environmental pollution, researchers around the world have been trying to think of new ways to deal with it.

Microplastics are particularly problematic because they are so small that they can get into everything, even our bodies.

Due to their tiny size, monitoring the quantity in the environment is an extremely tedious task.

So researchers are testing different fungi, bacteria, and even insects to break down microplastics – some successfully, some not.

A research team from China has created a small robotic fish that collects microplastics from the water.

It is 13 millimeters long and can move independently at a speed of about 30 millimeters per second.

It is made of a special material that is stretchy, flexible, and very durable. It is even capable of self-healing if damaged, which comes in handy in rougher waters.

The inventors got the idea for the material from the pearly layers inside shells. The material has a special property that microplastic particles like to stick to.

After the robotic fish collects microplastics in the water, researchers can further investigate the composition and impact of microplastics on humans.

Yuyan Wang, the researcher who led the study

Its main purpose is not to remove microplastic from water since it is too small.

Instead, it will help researchers monitor the amount of microplastics in the ocean.

Two Erasmus+ logos and disclaimer

The development of the robotic fish is still in the very early stages.

Currently, it can only swim on the surface of the water, so researchers have to develop a system so that it can swim deeper as well.

Points to Consider

  1. Why is plastic problematic?
  2. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with microplastics?
  3. How long does it take for plastic to break down?


The original version of this article was published on 20th October 2022.


Adamič je diplomirana biotehnologinja, ki rada potuje po svetu in približuje znanost najmlajšim.


Svetina is an English translator, EFL educator, and graphic designer. She is an American who has lived in Slovenia since 2008. She loves hiking and traveling with her family.

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