Fionn Ferreira is a 22-year-old scientist, inventor, and sustainability advocate who is passionate about clearing the Earth’s water systems of microplastics. Fionn grew up kayaking along the remote coast of Ireland with his dog India, where he became alarmed by the increasing amount of plastic washing up on the coastline. This first sparked his interest in solving the plastic pollution crisis. At 16, Fionn started creating, using LEGOs, bits of wood, and microcontrollers to test for microplastics. After some research he was horrified to learn that, on average, we consume a credit card’s worth of plastic every week through contaminated food and water, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s and cancer. Inspired by recent developments in technologies used to clear oil spills, he decided to create his own solution and set out to develop the first method for microplastic removal.
Fionn’s invention used a magnet-based method to remove microplastics from water with high extraction rates while being environmentally safe and cost-effective. Ferrofluid is the combination of vegetable oil and rust powder (magnetite) to create a non-polar liquid that attracts non-polar plastics. This means that the microplastics in the water are absorbed into the ferrofluid which can then be extracted. This invention supports the sustainable management of water resources, wastewater, and ecosystems. Its use improves water quality by reducing microplastic pollution, thereby contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goal 6.
Fionn Ferreira’s invention earned him recognition as the Global Grand Prize Winner of the Google Science Fair 2019 and garnered the attention of top scientists and industry leaders. In 2020 Fionn established his corporation, Fionn & Co. LLC and his foundation, the Green Journey Coalition to continue research and development on his device. He received support from Robert Downey Jr’s Footprint Coalition and is seeking further support to continue his work. Fionn’s passion for exploration and science has taken him on many research expeditions, studying plastics and pollution in countries including Svalbard, Greenland, and Canada.
Fionn is still building on his invention (and winning awards for its iterations) to this day. He is scaling his technology; eliminating the need for any filters and creating a method that produces zero waste – the process retains nearly all the magnetic liquid which can be reused. Even the collected microplastics can be outsourced for future recycling opportunities, making the process even more environmentally friendly. No process entirely removes microplastics, but recent developments in his invention enable it to remove over 85%, and the process can now be safely used on drinking water. Fionn Ferreira is currently working with the University of Texas in expanding his invention to a commercial model so it can be more widely adopted. Fionn’s invention has more recently been awarded by Intel ISEF and the BT Young Scientist. It gained third place in the European Patent Office’s Young Inventor Prize in 2023.
Fionn Ferreira has an impressive ability to weave deep technical knowledge with engaging storytelling as a keynote speaker, perfecting his craft across 300 lectures delivered in a planetarium in Schull whilst he attended school. Fionn has since gone on to speak at various conferences and events including the World Economic Forum, European Commission research conference, National Geographic Explorer’s Summit, the House of Lords, and ChangeNow Paris 2022, to name a few. Fionn’s extensive achievements have been recognised with various awards – he was named a National Geographic Young Explorer in 2021 and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 (Science and Healthcare) in the same year. Fionn Ferreira is also a World Economic Forum Changemaker and an ambassador for The AAT Project.
In addition to work in microplastics and keynote speaking engagements, Fionn is passionate about developing a television series that combines science and entertainment and is working on his first children’s book. He was also featured in a Global HP Campaign and Emporio Armani’s 2022 sustainability campaign. He has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Groningen and is currently pursuing a master’s in chemistry.
"Fionn Ferreira is a remarkable young talent, his dedication to sustainability and innovation is truly inspiring."
"Fionn Ferreira embodies the spirit of youth-led change. His work is a testament to the potential of young individuals to make a significant impact."
"I admire Fionn Ferreira's commitment to driving change for a sustainable future. He's a role model for young activists."
Contact us to get Fionn Ferreira's fees and availability for your next event
One of our consultants will get back to you soon