“95% of the floating plastic is located in the top 3 meters.”
In a multi-disciplinary team of engineer and design students, we were briefed to come up with a design solution for a plastic collecting drone driven only by renewable energy sources. Our result: The Oceanic Sweeper; a giant, wave and solar driven cleaning drone sweeping the great Oceans of its plastic.
The vessel is driven by of two, smaller front drones, each pulling long tarp barriers that together direct the flow of plastic backwards into a huge, floating pontoon container. The bottom of the container consists of metal bars where excess water runs down through while the plastic debris stays afloat at the back. Using the plastic’s own buoyancy, the drone simply concentrates the plastic at the water surface inside the container – without having to carry its weight. The pulling drones are driven mainly by energy from the long Pelamis wave-power tail but also by the solar energy collected from the panels mounted on the container roof. By using GPS orientation, the drone is always directed against the current for best inflow of debris, and can operate without the presence of a human pilot.
To see if the collecting theory worked in practice, we built a small scale functional prototype and went to the closest public bath facility to try it out. We were amazed at how well it actually worked!