‘Urbanfilter’ designed to stop microplastics in their tracks
The Audi Environmental Foundation has developed filters to help prevent tyre wear particles and environmentally harmful substances from being washed into sewers and water courses. In Germany alone, an estimated 110,000 metric tons of microplastics are blown around in the environment or washed by the rain as urban runoff into the soil, rivers and eventually the sea.
In collaboration with the Technical University of Berlin, the innovative filters trap dirt particles as close to the source as possible, before rainwater can flush them into the sewer network. In laboratory testing, the filters managed to permanently trap cigarette filters, microplastics, wrappers and even disposable coffee cup lids without blocking up.
A filter has also been deployed on a busy road in Berlin and passed its first stern test during a series of storms in February. It will remain in service until the end of the year to assess how it performs in real-life conditions and across the changing seasons and weather patterns.
A goal for the design is for the Urbanfilter to be able to operate for up to a year without needing to be maintained or cleaned. Intelligent connectivity will come into play here, with detailed information about the area it’s installed in helping to predict the contamination level of each filter.