Eliminating microplastics with jellyfish

The GoJelly project aims to solve one of the world’s largest environmental problems with the help of jellyfish.

GoJelly project: jellyfish filter microplastics
GoJelly project: jellyfish filter microplastics dpa

Jamileh Javidpour has been doing research into jellyfish for 14 years. The marine biologist at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel coordinates the GoJelly project. Javidpour and her international partners are promoting a microplastic filter made of jellyfish mucus under the slogan “A gelatinous solution to microplastic pollution”. “Large accumulations of jellyfish, which appear as a result of climate change, and water pollution with microplastics are problems that the EU would like to address,” explains Javidpour.

Trapping agent for microplastics

Solving one problem with the other is the idea behind GoJelly. The project has received funding from the EU since the beginning of 2018. The goal is to produce a filter for use in sewage works that absorbs the microplastic particles that are not filtered out in the recycling process. “Jellyfish mucus functions like an adhesive for plastic particles,” says Javidpour. That is why the Kiel-based group of researchers came up with the idea of using it as a filter. “We are currently investigating how filtering works best and how we can produce it at low cost,” says the researcher.

Using jellyfish for food and cosmetics

GoJelly also processes the umbrella dome and tentacles of the jellyfish to increase sustainability. “We are investigating varied uses of jellyfish jointly with 15 partners from industry and research,” says Javidpour. The experts come from eight different countries. While Israeli researchers are primarily interested in how jellyfish can filter microplastics, a Chinese partner is contributing millennia-old knowledge about the processing of jellyfish as food. “Jellyfish is very versatile. It can be used as plant fertiliser, fish food and also as food for humans,” says the ecologist. The pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors also use collagen from jellyfish.

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