Precision laser drilling helps filter microplastics from water

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A project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is employing laser drilling technology developed by Fraunhofer ILT as part of its efforts to filter microplastics from waste water.

The SimConDrill project, coordinated by water-filtration experts Klass Filter, includes Fraunhofer ILT, Laser Job, laser systems vendor Lunovu, and software developer OptiY.

The project is currently nominated for a Green Award as part of 2020’s Greentech Festival, an initiative launched by a group of engineers along with former Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg.

The project’s goal is to tackle the recognized problem of microplastics being carried by waste water and accumulating in the environment. A study at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) calculated that 333,000 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment each year in Germany alone, but researchers are still working out what effects this might be having on people and the environment.

Microplastics are not easy to filter out of waste water, partly because existing treatment plants were not designed to deal with particles of such small size. SimConDrill was launched in January 2019 to develop a durable filter module suitable for retrofitting into standard cyclone filters, allowing them to remove the microparticles from liquid via centrifugal force.

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