It cannot be denied that humanity's impact on the world is one of the biggest talking points of modern society. From air pollution to sustainable development, the media is increasingly turning its attention to the problems facing the environment and how individual and collective action can solve them. This blog series aims to shine a light on some of the issues facing the environment, and present some promising inventions that may provide a solution. As today is Global Recycling Day, the Green Series will start off by focusing on the one of the reasons that recycling is important: marine litter!
Marine litter is a huge global problem, with the European Commission estimating that 4.6-12.7 million tonnes of rubbish enter the oceans every year. This not only has huge impacts on marine wildlife, but also affects coastal communities which lose tourism and fishing opportunities. Marine litter has already been found to have introduced plastics into human foods, with microplastics having been found in birds, fish, whales and now even in human waste!
Prevention is always better than cure, and there are lots of initiatives taking place to reduce one-use plastics and prevent rubbish from entering oceans, for example making recycling more efficient and making more products from recyclable materials. But what about the rubbish that is already there? Here are some inventions looking to clean up the oceans:
CN107091203 has taken the well-known design for an offshore wind turbine, and added a rubbish filter system underneath to help with ocean clean-up. The cleaning assembly rotates and traps rubbish with a net, which can then easily be removed. This invention is extra green: generating renewable electricity whilst cleaning up the ocean!
CN107401150 is a smaller invention that also harnesses the wind to collect rubbish from the ocean's surface. The wind causes its central propeller to rotate, driving water into the body of the device. The water can then drain out through small holes in the body, whilst the rubbish is trapped inside. This rubbish would then be cleaned out, and the device returned to the ocean to continue cleaning up.
Since boats are already present in the ocean, it makes sense that inventors would try to modify them to collect marine litter whilst they sail, and this is seen in CN205113652. The boat has a net attached to the hull, which collects rubbish from the ocean's surface. Once the net is full, it can be hoised up, the water pumped out and have the remaining rubbish dumped into a collection "pool" on the boat. The rubbish can then be collected from the boat when it returns to shore.
Finally, CN106741894 is a flying drone that can take photos of the ocean surface, analyse whether rubbish is present and catch any rubbish it finds in its net. The drone will fly a programmed route, and bring back any rubbish it detects along the way. It can return early once it's at maximum capacity, and can also be programmed to dump the rubbish in a particular spot, such as in a garbage truck, to make it easy to collect.
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