Acoustophoresis for the separation of microplastics


The input of microplastics into the aquatic and terrestrial environment poses a significant threat to living organisms and plants. Plastic residues enter water bodies and arable soils directly or indirectly through waste and wastewater. With existing purification technologies, wastewater treatment plants are not able to completely remove the accumulating microplastics from the wastewater, so that large parts of the particularly small microplastics (< 150 µm) enter the environment via the clear water.


The AKUSMI research project therefore aims to research and develop a non-invasive process for separating microplastics from treated clear water in wastewater treatment plants. The project focuses on the design of an acoustophoretic separator module that enables the targeted separation of microplastics from the surrounding clear water on the basis of acoustic fields in the ultrasound range. In this way, the environmental input is to be significantly reduced and a recycling process for particularly small microplastics made possible.

The AKUSMI project is a cooperation project of the two ifak departments "Measurement Technology & Power Electronics" and "Water & Energy". The department "Measurement Technology & Power Electronics" is investigating and developing the acoustophoretic separator module. The department "Water & Energy" integrates the research results into the simulation systems SAMPSONS and SIMBA, so that a model-based balancing of the plastic material flow in sewage treatment plants becomes possible.

The target applications for the separator module are industrial wastewater treatment systems and municipal wastewater treatment plants.


(Reference: gradt – stock.adobe.com)