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The New Inventions Saving Our Oceans
The Ocean Cleanup
Plastic waste and pollution are some of the biggest threats facing the world’s oceans and damaging marine life, but thanks to the latest advances in technology new gadgets are now being produced to help combat this environmental issue. We look at the latest tech gadgets designed to cleanup the oceans and protect our valuable ecosystems.
The Ocean Cleanup
Designed by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat at the tender age of 16, the Ocean Cleanup Array is a device created to tackle the problem of ocean plastic pollution on a large scale. Essentially it is a network of floating barriers which use the ocean’s currents to collect huge amounts of plastic which can then be easily extracted and recycled. The first barriers are expected to be installed imminently off the coasts of Japan and South Korea and, should they prove successful, this could be the answer to tackling the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Designed by Richard Hardiman of RanMarine and already in use in the Port of Rotterdam, Waste Shark is a small robotic device that 'swims' close to the shore catching rubbish before it can make its way out to sea. Available in both Slim and Fatboy versions, each device has a mouth that extends a foot below the water and can catch up to 1,100 pounds of waste before returning to land to be emptied. The Port of Rotterdam Authority's Port Waste Catch programme trialled the product back in 2016, as did Dubai Marina. Most recently, a WasteShark was launched in March 2019 by WWF and Sky at Ilfracombe Harbour in Devon, UK.
The most effective environmental devices are often those that require no extra effort from their users – which is exactly the ethos behind the Spongesuit. This two-piece bikini designed by researchers at the University of California is created from a pollutant-absorbing material which literally sucks up unwanted elements from the ocean as you swim. In fact, it can hold up to 25 times its own weight in toxins without exposing the wearer to any risk at all.
Despite the less-than-chic name, the actual designs are rather flattering and it is thought the material can be used to create bathing suits of all shapes and sizes. The bikini is not yet in mass production but this is certainly one to look out for in the future.
Designed for use in marinas, yacht clubs and harbours, the Seabin is an automated rubbish bin which catches floating rubbish, oil, fuel and detergents. Still at the crowdfunding stage, founders Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski created the Seabin to work using the water’s natural currents to draw rubbish towards it. Material rubbish is caught in a natural fibre bag while oil and toxins are removed using a special pump before clean water is released back in to the ocean.
Marina Trash Skimmer
Similar to the Seabin, the Marina Trash Skimmer has been specifically designed for use in harbours and marinas to help reduce plastic pollution in ports and high marine traffic areas. The Skimmer is a stationary unit that should be strategically placed at a specific problem site or deployed as a network of units to protect and clean a larger marine space or ecosystem. Working with the ocean's natural currents, tides and winds, skimmers work around the clock to collect trash and oil sheen into one easy-to-access location for quick removal and disposal. With a nearly indestructible shell holding industrial-grade components, the skimmer has been designed exclusively for the removal of trash and pollutants at a commercial scale.
Until there comes a time when we no longer rely on fossil fuels oil spills will always be a part of life - proving deadly to any marine life unfortunate enough to come into contact with them. Unfortunately they are also incredibly hard to clean up but Arden Warner of American physics centre Fermilab thinks he may have found an answer. His neat solution is to sprinkle the oil with ground magnetite which renders it magnetic. Then you simply move Motherboard – a magnetic wand – over the surface of the water and vacuum up the oil using magnetic attraction.