Microplastics from tires and other sources pollute water and end up in food chain
Filters would catch plastics (macro and micro) before they hit the drain
Electric cars are just one way to help lower the environmental impact of the automobile. Audi is working on a second crucial way to help, stopping the microplastics that come off of a vehicle as it moves down the road from getting into waterways.
In Germany alone, an estimated 110,000 metric tons of microplastics are generated every year from tire and pavement wear, Audi says. Once these particles are created, they’re blown into the environment by the wind or are washed away by rainfall to end up in soil, rivers, and oceans where they harm marine life and the entire food chain.
To try and put a stop to microplastics, the Audi Environmental Foundation and the Technical University of Berlin’s Department of Urban Water Management have developed a new filter concept.
“Our goal is to take preventative actions wherever possible so that less microplastics get into the environment,” says Rüdiger Recknagel, Director of the Audi Environmental Foundation.
The filter are designed to go into the wastewater flow and trap more than just microplastics from cars. They trap microplastics from other sources along with street waste including cigarette filters, candy wrappers, and coffee cup lids.
One of the Urbanfilter concepts has been in place on a busy Berlin street for more than a month already. It’s handled some serious February rainstorms and is set to remain in place until the end of the year.
Up to nine modiles of filter can be combined to suit the needs of the location. Testing has shown it can handle particles of rubber from 20 to 1,000 micometres in size in medium rainfall. The next step is to improve strong rainfall performance.
The goal for the Urbanfilter is to be left in place for up to a year without cleaning, reducing costs and inconvenience for municipalities. Urbanfilter will also use intelligent connectivity to help determine exactly when the best time to clean it would be.