It is called Seavax and could collect from deadly micro particles to huge fishing nets!
Plastic pollution is threating ocean life and estimations show there could be more plastic than fish in our seas by 2050. Seavax, a solar and wind-powered vessel which filters sea water and collects plastic waste floating in the open sea, could improve this situation!
The idea was conceived by a group of engineers from Sussex, UK who founded Bluebird Marine Systems LTD (BMS) almost 5 years ago. Their vessel, unveiled last November at the government-funded Innovate UK in London, has passed proof-of-concept stage and is now entering the prototype phase. The inventors are on search of funding in order to get a full size demonstrator in the water, for further testing and the completion of a feasibility study. Once an improved patent is granted, the project will have taken $195,000 (£138,000) and a year to develop. “Much of what is available depends on match-funding and that is not something with our set-up we can deliver at present. Had we been in California it might have been easier’’, says project director Chris Close.
Seavax will have a roaming, satellite-controlled aluminium platform, and will be equipped with deck-mounted solar panels and 2 wind turbines, which will power the electric pumps and filters. There will also be an on-board shredder to cut up larger pieces. The 50 m long (160 ft) vessel could store up to 150 tns of plastic in its tank, until it can be off-loaded. Sensors will detect waste and sonar technology will protect marine and bird life from getting caught (an automatic shutdown is scheduled when marine life is detected).
The inventors estimate that SeaVax could generate enough energy to treat almost 90000 m3 of seawater per year, meaning 22500 tns of plastic when used in water with high concentrations of surface solid plastic (ex. rivers).
SeaVax could also be equipped with an oil spill recovery module and ideally it could switch from plastic to fluid oil recovery, depending on the ocean threat. Bluebird Marine Systems has already received interest from people in India trying to develop a clean-up solution for the polluted Ganges River, and also from Nigeria and Australia regarding the device’s potential for oil cleanup.
Needless to say, our main focus should still be on addressing the root cause of the problem, plastic creation and usage. But innovations like these can help mitigate the damage we have already done!