WasteShark the new device that removes floating debris from water

The climate emergency is not the only environmental issue the world is struggling to solve. Plastic products clog our oceans, threatening marine life and polluting the water. At current rates plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the sea by the year 2050. In Holland, a new device is a small sign of hope. ‘WasteShark’ is a remotely controlled device that collects rubbish from the water.

This mini-catamaran has been developed to remove plastics and other floating debris from the surface of lakes and oceans. Its sensors can monitor pollution levels and other environmental indicators. It is electrically powered, emission-free and can collect hundreds of kilos of rubbish at a time. Richard Hardiman is the founder of Ranmarine Technologies, the company responsible for Waste Shark:

“What we’re trying to do is create a small enough vessel that will get into tight spaces where waste collects, particularly in the harbours and the ports, and stop all that waste being taken out into the greater ocean.

“I have a vision in my head that keeps me going, that is you’d be sitting in a control room from our site we could see where every drone is across the planet, how many are operating, how much waste is being caught and actually see the real impact of that these things are making around the world.”

This is one of the projects that received support from the European funds allocated to making plastic circular. Ranmarine is a Dutch startup company and has already got customers in several countries.

Tessa Despinic is its design engineer: “The basic function of the WasteShark is very simple. It just swims around and collects trash from the surface. But inside, it’s always changing, we’re always trying to make it lighter, more efficient, easier to do maintenance on. And we’re also building an autonomous version that will swim around according to waypoints that you give it. So we’re always working on that and making it better.”

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Garbage-collecting aqua drones and jellyfish filters for cleaner oceans

A Roomba-like ocean trash collector modelled on a whale shark and a microplastic filter made from jellyfish slime could prevent litter from entering our oceans and help tackle a growing problem that poses threats to wildlife, deters tourists and impacts on coastal economies.

The cost of sea litter in the EU has been estimated at up to €630 million per year. It is mostly composed of plastics, which take hundreds of years to break down in nature, and has the potential to affect human health through the food chain because plastic waste is eaten by the fish that we consume.

‘I’m an accidental environmentalist,’ said Richard Hardiman, who runs a project called WASTESHARK. He says that while walking at his local harbour one day he stopped to watch two men struggle to scoop litter out of the sea using a pool net. Their inefficiency bothered Hardiman, and he set about trying to solve the problem. It was only when he delved deeper into the issue that he realised how damaging marine litter, and plastic in particular, can be, he says.

‘I started exploring where this trash goes – ocean gyres (circular currents), junk gyres, and they’re just full of plastic. I’m very glad that we’re now doing something to lessen the effects,’ he said.

Hardiman developed an unmanned robot, an aqua drone that cruises around urban waters such as harbours, marinas and canals, eating up marine litter like a Roomba of the sea. The waste is collected in a basket which the WasteShark then brings back to shore to be emptied, sorted and recycled.

The design of the autonomous drone is modelled on a whale shark, the ocean’s largest known fish. These giant filter feeders swim around with their mouths open and lazily eat whatever crosses their path.

Read the full article by Horizon article