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Utilisation of Bubbles and Oil for Microplastic Capture from Water

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joshua Saczek, Dr Vladimir Zivkovic, Professor Mohamed MamloukORCiD, Dr Shengkai Wang, Dr Stevin PramanaORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The removal of microplastics from water using oil has shown early promise, however, incorporation of this technique into a feasible in-situ method has yet to be developed. Here, a simple yet effective method of microplastic capture from water using vegetable oil with bubbles is demonstrated to achieve high removal efficiencies, > 98 %. Comparisons have been made with other methods of agitation, showing higher removal efficiencies when bubbles were used. Due to the low agitation provided by the bubbles the oil layer remains unbroken, meaning no oil is released into the bulk water phase, avoiding secondary contamination. Unlike membrane filtration, another effective removal method, where polymer-based membranes can break down due to chemical backwashing and ageing. It was demonstrated that the variation in microplastic size within the micron range (50 – 170 μm) had little impact on the removal efficiency, however, for larger millimeter sized microplastics (500 – 5000 μm), 100% removal was achieved. Similarly, capture of microfibers resulted in high removal, >99 %. Other factors such as the oil volume and water salinity were also investigated and discussed. As such, this method could be introduced into multiple types of setting as a passive and continuous method of microplastic capture.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Saczek J, Yao X, Zivkovic V, Mamlouk M, Wang S, Pramana SS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Engineering

Year: 2024

Pages: ePub ahead of Print

Online publication date: 04/04/2024

Acceptance date: 17/01/2023

Date deposited: 17/01/2023

ISSN (print): 2096-0026

ISSN (electronic): 2095-8099

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.eng.2023.01.021


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Funder referenceFunder name
School of Engineering, Newcastle University