Egg white hides a key innovation for the environment

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It is a recurring ecological problem. Each year, nearly 300 million tons of plastics are produced worldwide, and it is estimated that around 5000 billion pieces of plastic are currently floating in the oceans. This is a real trap for hundreds of species of marine animals, but also indirectly for human health.

An ingenious process that meets an environmental imperative

However, scientists from the prestigious American University of Princeton have just made a discovery that could change the situation. They decided to use egg whites to create an airgel capable of removing microplastics and salt from seawater.

Specifically, egg white is a complex protein system, which when freeze-dried and heated to 900 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free environment produces a substance that can remove 99% of microplastics from water and 98% salt.

The results of this study are all the more promising as this airgel is very inexpensive to manufacture. In addition, it only consumes a limited amount of water and energy, and it is much more efficient than the activated carbon that is sometimes used.

Craig Arnold, who directs the laboratory at the origin of this scientific work, specifies on this subject: ” Eggs are cool because we can all use them and they’re easy to get, but you have to be careful not to compete with the food cycle. However, it seems that this material can still be produced in large quantities, and without threatening global food security.

For the time being, however, there is no question of using this process on a large scale. The researchers first want to take the time to deepen their discoveries and in particular to refine the manufacturing process in order, why not, to use it to purify water on a larger scale.

When AI works wonders

Finally, it is interesting to note that cleaning operations are undertaken almost everywhere but that they very often come up against the problem of identifying microplastics. And precisely, we were talking to you in 2020 about this team of scientists from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom.

The latter have developed an AI that identifies plastic pollution at sea, via images collected by the Sentinel-2 satellites of the European Space Agency. The system has already proven itself in Europe, Asia and Africa with very high efficiency rates of around 86%.

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