Cleanup in EarthShare New Jersey: An Innovative Solution for Waterway Restoration

Water pollution is a pressing global issue that threatens ecosystems and human health. As pollution levels continue to rise, innovative technologies are being developed to combat this problem. One such technology is the RanMarine WasteShark, an aquatic drone designed to cleanup and remove floating debris from waterways. 

How the WasteShark Operates
The WasteShark aquadrone, developed by RanMarine Technology, operates akin to a water-based Roomba vacuum cleaner. With a capture basket capacity of 42 gallons, this coffee table-sized robotic drone demonstrates its remarkable capabilities by efficiently collecting and removing up to 1100 pounds of waste on a daily basis from diverse aquatic environments such as harbors, marinas, estuaries, and lakes. It excels in accessing small, hard-to-reach areas, ensuring that debris is effectively tackled in critical chokeholds. Whether operated manually through remote control or autonomously following a pre-programmed route using an online dashboard, the WasteShark’s adaptability guarantees highly effective and efficient cleaning operations.

Types of Debris Removed
The WasteShark is designed to combat various types of debris polluting our waterways. It targets floating debris or trash and even small plastic pollution, which poses a significant threat to marine life and water quality. Additionally, the WasteShark can remove unwanted biomass vegetation from the water surface. Harmful algal blooms release toxins that contaminate drinking water, causing illnesses for animals and humans.

Global Impact
The global impact of water pollution around the world can be greatly addressed by solutions like the WasteShark. Researchers estimate that 10,000 metric tonnes of waste enter the Great Lakes alone each year, with a significant portion being plastic. By efficiently removing this waste, WasteShark helps mitigate the harmful effects of anthropogenic debris on wildlife, drinking water, and public enjoyment of water resources. Its contribution to cleaner waterways positively impacts ecosystems and human well-being on a global scale.

Organizations Utilizing the WasteShark
One notable organization utilizing the WasteShark is PortsToronto. In partnership with RanMarine Technology, PortsToronto has launched a pilot program that introduced two WasteShark aquadrones, named Ebb and Flow, to the Toronto Harbour. As part of PortsToronto’s Trash Trapping Program, Ebb and Flow join the network of Seabins deployed to capture floating debris and small plastic pollution. This program is supported by a grant initiative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

PortsToronto’s Trash Trapping Program, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Trash Team and the International Trash Trap Network, recognizes the invaluable contribution of the WasteShark aquadrones in collecting vital data on the type, amount, and sources of debris in the Toronto Harbour and Lake Ontario. By utilizing the WasteSharks, PortsToronto can significantly enhance its trash-trapping capabilities and expand research efforts to gain a deeper understanding of plastic pollution and its effective mitigation strategies.

The RanMarine WasteShark represents an innovative solution for combating water pollution and the accumulation of debris in aquatic environments. Its ability to collect floating debris, small plastic pollution, and biomass has a significant global impact by improving water quality, preserving ecosystems, and safeguarding public health. Through the efforts of organizations such as PortsToronto, WasteShark contributes to data collection, research, and collaboration necessary to address water pollution on a larger scale. As the demand for sustainable and efficient cleaning technologies continues to grow, WasteShark offers hope in creating cleaner waterways worldwide.

Original article: https://www.earthsharenj.org/the-ranmarine-wasteshark-an-innovative-solution-for-waterway-cleanup/

RanMarine Technology unveils a pioneering initiative for a cleaner aquatic environment with Ports Toronto

Toronto, Ontario 9 August 2023

RanMarine, backed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has introduced WasteSharks to Canadian waters. Leveraging the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s DHI program, aimed at bolstering Dutch businesses abroad, PortsToronto and Port of Halifax are beneficiaries of the latest aqua-drones. This initiative aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals, promoting innovation, feasibility studies, and investment readiness.

Now in the summer of 2023, PortsToronto can proudly introduce their WasteShark aqua-drones named “Ebb and Flow”, as part of their visionary project set to revolutionise water cleanliness in Toronto Harbour. In tandem with PortsToronto’s Seabins, these autonomous Wastesharks will adeptly capture floating debris and plastic pollution, championing sustainability. Employing a Roomba-like approach, they effortlessly skim the water surface, channeling waste through a specialized catch basin and net. With a robust 180-liter capacity, each Wasteshark can eliminate up to 1100 lbs of waste daily. Based at the Outer Harbour Marina, these aquatic wonders will traverse target zones across the Toronto Harbour and waterfront, collecting data while supporting PortsToronto’s partnership with the University of Toronto (UofT) Trash Team.

About PortsToronto Trash Trapping Program

The PortsToronto Trash Trapping Program employs trash-trapping technology and solutions-based research to tackle plastic pollution and protect Toronto’s waters for future generations. Since 2019, the program has removed hundreds of thousands of small pieces of plastic pollution from the Toronto Harbour, moving the needle toward cleaner water in Lake Ontario.

The program is led by PortsToronto and the U of T Trash Team, in partnership with the Waterfront Business Improvement Area (WBIA) and the City of Toronto BIA Office Innovation Grant, Nieuport Aviation, the Toronto Zoo, Harbourfront Centre and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). It is part of the Toronto Inner Harbour Floatables Strategy, a collaborative strategy with a mission to reduce plastic pollution and other floating litter in the harbour, and of the International Trash Trapping Network, an initiative led by the U of T Trash Team and Ocean Conservancy, and has influenced the launch of similar trash trapping and data collection programs throughout the Great Lakes and beyond.

A Trash-Eating Sea Monster Appears in the Hudson!

A team of scientists and environmentalists tests out the WasteShark, an unmanned watercraft that vacuums up soda cans and potato-chip bags.

WasteShark is not a shark. It is an unmanned watercraft that its creators named for a shark, owing to similarities between how WasteShark collects its prey and the feeding habits of the Rhincodon typus, or whale shark. Cruising slowly, the whale shark takes in water and filters it for plankton and krill; WasteShark, meanwhile, filters urban waters for trash. But, whereas the whale shark can grow to the length of a subway car, WasteShark is only five feet long, three and a half feet wide, and a foot and a half thick. As the bright-orange fibreglass craft floated on the Hudson River recently, off Pier 40—collecting trash at or near the surface in its wire-basket-like interior—it looked less like a fish than like something accidentally dropped from a cruise liner. “I thought it was somebody’s luggage,” a member of the Village Community Boathouse said, after WasteShark whisked past.

When full, WasteShark’s hold is emptied by its minders—in this case, Carrie Roble, a scientist who is in charge of research and education at Hudson River Park, and Siddhartha Hayes, who oversees the park’s environmental monitoring. Hayes grew up jumping into swimming holes in the Catskills, while Roble swam in metropolitan Detroit, affording her insight into a still widely held view of urban rivers. “I used to swim in the Detroit River, and people would see me and say, ‘I can’t wait to see your third arm,’ ” she said.

WasteShark, which costs twenty thousand dollars, is joining the park’s scientific team more as mascot than as player. Roble hopes that it will generate interest among passersby and among “field assistants” (interns), who will pilot the trash-eating drone this summer. “We see WasteShark as a tool,” she said.

WasteShark’s latest test run in the Hudson happened to take place on the very day that forest fires in Quebec turned New York into a Mars-scape, adding a sense of urgency to WasteShark’s mission. As Roble and Hayes wheeled it out on a dolly from Pier 40’s Wetlab, the park’s aquarium and field station, they donned N95 masks and life jackets, and were joined by two interns: Vivian Chavez, a student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and Stefan Valdez, from Lehman College, in the Bronx.

They lugged WasteShark down a gangway to a dock floating in a cove bounded by Pier 40 and the pier leading to the Holland Tunnel ventilation shaft—discharging carbon monoxide and pulling in what was passing that day for fresh air. A wake caused by a ferry buffeted the dock, sending an observer to his knees. Hayes knelt by WasteShark, touching its stern. “O.K., so these are the thrusters,” he said, pressing the start button. “I’m holding it until it’s blue.”

Roble detailed WasteShark’s features—a camera, sensors for measuring depth and temperature—while managing expectations. In 2020, Roble and Hayes published, in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, a comprehensive analysis of the lower Hudson estuary’s high levels of microplastics, against which WasteShark is powerless. WasteShark is the robotic assistant to a volunteer shoreline trash pickup. “For that plastic water bottle that is just out of reach,” Roble explained.

They lowered WasteShark off the edge and, with a handheld controller, turned on the thrusters, which propelled the craft quietly. Chavez took the controls. “It kind of feels like you’re walking your pet,” Roble told her, “ ’cause we end up following it along.”

As the skies darkened, Chavez smiled and set a course for some rejectamenta. Roble mused about potential attachments, including one that resembles an Arctic fox, to deter congregating Canada geese, which are a threat to passenger jets. “Or maybe googly eyes,” she said.

Chavez attributed her immediate proficiency to her gaming skills, recently honed via the latest Legend of Zelda game, Tears of the Kingdom. She handed the controller to Valdez, who steered WasteShark toward the West Street shore. “I think it handles well,” he said.

“They are the guinea pigs, and they are basically loving it,” Roble said, pleased.

A waft of trash came up from under the pier, and a gaggle of high schoolers walked out onto the pier to take pictures of the orange sky. “It’s the end of the world,” one of them shouted—then he spotted WasteShark. “Wait, are you guys monitoring something?”

After an hour, WasteShark was heaved onto the dock, and Roble and Hayes, wearing surgical gloves, picked through its haul: a baseball, bits of wood, a Diet Coke can, a water chestnut, a cigar wrapper, a toy-A.T.V. part (“Always a lot of toys,” Roble said), an amphipod, a glop of gray mush not immediately identifiable, a bag of Utz barbecue-flavored Ripples, bladder wrack, seaweed (“Good adaptation,” Hayes said), a Canada-goose gosling (deceased), a coffee-cup lid, and an Amazon bag.

By Robert Sullivan July 24, 2023 See article on link

Defeating blue-green algae: Meet the advanced MegaShark

SUSTAINABILITY – RanMarine’s aqua drones help clean the water by combating plastics and (blue-green) algae, which plague Dutch waters every summer.

Nothing beats a dip in natural swimming water during a hot summer day, right? But every year, the same question arises again: Is the water safe for swimming, or will these awful blue-green algae prevent us from entering the water? With the WasteShark and MegaShark, RanMarine not only removes plastic waste and unwanted algae. “We are now working hard on developing an advanced MegaShark that can target the harmful and annoying blue-green algae as well,” says Richard Hardiman, CEO of the Rotterdam-based company.

In the ongoing battle against water pollution, RanMarine is making waves with its innovative water drone technology. The company is tackling the global issue of water pollution with the WasteShark and the Mega Shark: high-tech devices that glide through the water, collecting pollutants. “You can compare it to an autonomous vacuum cleaner, but instead of vacuuming your lounge, they vacuum the top thirty centimeters of waterways”, explains Hardiman. The drones are equipped with sensors and cameras and can navigate complex waterways.

The MegaShark
Natural waters face a big problem nowadays: algal blooms. The consequences of excessive algae range from unattractive appearance and unpleasant odors – bad for tourism and overall well-being – to severe disruptions in aquatic ecosystems by depleting oxygen levels and blocking sunlight, damaging plants, and harming the fish. “The blooms are fueled by excessive nutrient runoff of farmer lands and profit from climate change. As temperatures rise and the population grows, we must feed more people. That means more farming and more fertilizers. I foresee that algae will become a huge problem in the future”, Hardiman explains.

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Autonomous vehicles playing a vital role in waste management

NOVEMBER 5, 2020

Autonomous vehicles helping in security and ensuring asset protection across public spaces and private organisations is something that we hear of every day. However, very little is known about these vehicles helping in managing waste and even less so of those that run underwater.

From the assessment of the size of a waste pile to the detection of its thermal heat, autonomous vehicles can collect data that are more detailed and insightful than ever. Unlike manned flights, they are a lot more affordable and can acquire equally detailed data. Thus, employing them rather than adopting traditional on-ground inspection method, can not only be cost-effective but time-saving as well, for waste management organisations. In addition to this, in many countries, they are being used to pick up garbage at public places and also identify industrial litterbugs that illegally dump factory wastes. The images and videos captured are used as evidences to take necessary actions against them.

While these are mainly the use-cases of aerial autonomous vehicles, when it comes to waste management, even those that run underwater play an important role. An ideal example is WasteShark by RanMarine Technology, a Netherlands-based tech start-up that specialises in the design and development of industrial autonomous surface vessels for ports, harbours and marine environments.Modelled on the Whale Shark, WasteShark is equipped for waste and data collection underwater, having a swim time of around 10 hours and is capable of cleaning over 500 kg debris a day. Having roped in a number of investors, one of which is the Luxembourg-based investment firm Boundary Holding founded by Rajat Khare, RanMarine has been able to achieve unparalleled feats in the clean-tech sector.

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Trash-Eating Drones Are Taking on Water Pollution

An autonomous water drone lumbers around Ilfracombe Harbor on the North Devon Coast in Southwest England. Called WasteShark, the 5-by-3.5-feet catamaran-shaped “aquadrone” scoops up plastic, rubbish, and debris before the tide takes it out to sea.

Inspired by whale sharks that cruise around the water with their mouths open to suck in plankton and fish, WasteShark gobbles up over 1,000 pounds of waste that crosses its path daily. “We built it on the same principals as a whale shark. It is the size of an average coffee table and operates just like a robotic vacuum cleaner that goes around your room, sweeping the dust from your floors,” says Richard Hardiman, CEO of RanMarine Technology, the Netherlands-based startup that developed WasteShark.

England is not the only location deploying water drones to prevent plastic from entering the ocean and threatening marine life. Founded in 2016, RanMarine has used WasteSharks to help clean up the harbor waters in the United States, additional areas in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Africa, India, Denmark, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia. According to Hardiman, its customers include local and federal governments, port authorities, educational and commercial organizations.

He believes that the vessel is most effective at “waste chokeholds like harbors, rivers, and canals” because it can “enter hard-to-reach areas and easily navigate through water traffic to clean urban, rural, and industrial waterways.” Extending no deeper than a foot beneath the surface, the device glides through the water and its mouth-like opening in the front catches everything in its path. A metal-wire basket, located between its two hulls, filters out the water and collects solids that are brought back to the shore to be emptied, sorted, and recycled.

WasteShark can be steered manually via remote control or set up to swim autonomously; its collision-avoidance system employs remote-sensing technology called Lidar to spot obstacles, such as buoys and other crafts, and adjust its position accordingly.

Read the full article by Dell Technologies article

Meet the Zayed Sustainability Prize finalists for start-ups

Ten candidates across five categories will be announced as 2020 winners on Monday.  This Monday, 10 candidates from a total of 30 finalists will be announced as winners of the 2020 Zayed Sustainability Prize.  The major international award now covers five categories, including health, food, energy and water. Education is addressed through its ‘global high schools’ category.  This year, finalists include start-ups which have developed technologies to combat plastic waste and the spread of disease, as well as improving access to clean electricity.  The winners will be chosen from across all categories and will each be awarded $600,000 (Dh2.2 million). Here, The National takes a closer look at some of those in contention.

RanMarine Technology

Category: Water
What they do: Remove unwanted plastic and rubbish from waterways
Where: Globally

Plastic pollution has undeniably had a devastating impact on our oceans. For years, marine life and habitats have suffered. Today, however, one social enterprise is doing its bit to restore the health of beaches, canals and rivers around the world.

RanMarine Technology invented the WasteShark, an autonomous drone which swims through water while clearing waste materials including plastics, oil, toxic algae and invasive plants.

The robot works by sucking up unwanted debris and collecting environmental data to understand changes to water quality. Its designers say it poses no threat to animals, emits no light or noise pollution and produces zero carbon or greenhouse emissions. “We chose to target this particular global issue because we love the ocean,” Oliver Cunningham, co-founder of the enterprise told The National. “It is not only the source of all life on Earth, it is also a thing of immeasurable natural beauty and fun. “We believe that building smarter, cleaner, more efficient cities is the key to ensuring that humans can live sustainably and happily on Earth.

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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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Drone ‘shark’ that eats plastic goes live in UK waters

The WasteShark is an autonomous marine drone and is the first designed specifically to eat waste.  Its shape is inspired by the whale shark and it can remove 1kg (2.3lb) of waste per minute and last for eight hours at a time.

The device is making its UK debut in Ilfracombe harbour, in Devon, on Monday, after operating successfully in five countries, including South Africa and United Arab Emirates.

It runs on a by a rechargeable battery and will capture up to 160 litres of waste at a time, including plastics and microplastics.

It can also extract oils and pest plants such as algae and duckweed.

The plastic waste will be turned into pellets that will be used to make products such as kayaks.

Created by RanMarine Technology, the WasteShark is designed to be harmonious with the environment and it causes no harm to wildlife. GPS points are programmed into the drone to ensure that it covers hot-spots where waste gathers. It can also collect important data about the marine environment.

WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue are launching the WasteShark as part of their work to improve Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). These areas include precious habitats and the species within them, and are under serious threat from issues including plastic and pollution.

Ilfracombe harbour lies within the Bideford to Foreland Point MPA, home to a number of important species and diverse habitats, including rocky reefs, honeycomb worms, pink sea fans and the charismatic spiny lobster. The area is also regularly visited by seabirds and cetaceans including the elusive harbour porpoise.

Lundy Island, home to some of the UK’s most diverse and incredible wildlife, including species of conservation importance like grey seals, lies just 12 miles off the coast.

The device is being tested in the UK at Ilfracombe harbour

Jenny Oates, UK SEAS Programme Manager at WWF, said: “The WasteShark will help us fight the waste that enters the harbour, snapping it up before the tide takes it out to sea and it ends up threatening wildlife in other precious marine areas.

“There’s no doubt we need to see major systemic change when it comes to single-use plastic. As we strive to get governments and businesses to commit to turning off the plastic tap, there is an important role for innovative technology to remove it from our seas.”

Read the full article by Sky News article

WasteShark, the plastic-eating drone

WasteShark, the plastic-eating drone

Richard Hardiman, the accidental environmentalist, speaks honestly about his entrepreneurial journey, discovering a passion for drones and plastic recycling he never dreamed of, and how the creative, entrepreneurial side lies in each of us- waiting to be unleashed.

RanMarine Technology B.V. have just launched WasteShark, their first product. These fully autonomous drones swim through the water, collecting waste and other non-biodegradables, whilst gathering data about the environment.

Q: What’s unique or innovative about RanMarine Technology?

Waste removal and plastic recycling is not a ‘sexy’ subject but when you start using drones in water to start reducing the negative effects of pollution, that generally sparks a conversation, not only about just how bad pollution in our oceans has gotten, but how cool the future of technology really is.

Our products are unique but I think our innovation and understanding of what the future needs are our most differentiating aspects.

Q: What inspired you to start?

A few years ago, I was watching two men in a boat cleaning out an area of water with a pool net; a small and relatively ineffective pool net and the inefficiency in that process just drove me mad, especially given the amount of trash they were trying to collect with that net.

I started playing around with the idea of automated scoops to pick this up and filter the plastic out, eventually, I narrowed it down to USV’s (Unmanned Surface Vehicles/Vessels) and how we could use drone technology to automate this plastic collection.

As with any idea that speaks to current problems, everyone I spoke to about this solution got very excited, but an idea is one thing, committing to it and creating something that has never been done before is quite another.

“Eventually, I built a prototype in my garage; it was made of plumbers piping Arduino boards and some bilge pumps to act as motors – I put it all together with some crudely written code and tested the prototype in my pool; despite my skills, it worked!”

From there I joined an Accelerator (portxl.org) in Rotterdam and found new partners and investment and we have been building ever since.

Q: What’s your biggest achievement to date?

It may sound odd but the fact that we created a business from scratch, which was based on the idea of “what if”, and turned that into something that has a demand globally…that to me is pretty big. It sounds like a linear process, you have an idea, build a prototype, find investment and create a product, but the journey is far harder and path far more winding than that – we created something that never existed before and that always pleases me.

Q: What’s your plans for the next 6 months or year?

Our next two months is totally focussed on market readiness; we have a number of drones out in the field right now (The Netherlands, USA, Africa and India) been tested by launching customers and partners with a view to refining the requirements, usability and tweaking any parts of the software and hardware for customer-readiness. Along with this, we are into scale-up mode on our production lines and logistics into our launching markets; 2018 is the year we started sending our first product The WasteShark around the globe, so internally we are focused on making these steps as simple as possible. Parallel to this, we are working on our next two products, so its all systems go.

Q: What do you wish you’d known at the beginning? Has inspiration come from unexpected places?

I knew nothing about drones, maritime or even the huge problem that is plastic waste before I saw those two men in a boat with their net; My inspiration came from trying to solve a problem of inefficacy in a process, as many new innovations do – if you had asked me three or four years ago did I think I would be doing what I am doing now I would have laughed…but that’s because inspiration and innovation do come from the most unlikely of places and send you on a path that you can’t always predict, but that’s half the fun.

If we had to start over again there would, of course, be things I would change, decisions, partnerships or development paths that you would not have taken, but these are all learning processes, you try your best not to make the same mistake twice but quite often you do anyway. Part of being an entrepreneur is having the tenacity to live with your mistakes, choices and the constant threat of failure and learning to adapt to that and continue going forward.

“…If you had asked me three or four years ago did I think I would be doing what I am doing now I would have laughed…”

Is there a particular moment where you had to rethink things?

There have been many moments! Oddly though never one of giving up – with anything new and untested you invariably come up against problems that you thought would be simple to solve and become almost show-stoppers to the project, but I am big on solutions, you can find problems everywhere in life…I prefer that if I am shown a problem I am also given one or two possibilities on how we intend to solve the problem; too often we use a problem to mean that we no longer have to work or think, that is just lazy.

It is going well now but that doesn’t mean that problems do not arise, we are a small and growing team and we are working well together, but with a problem the size of the one we are trying to help solve, roadblocks and problems occur every day; its just how you manage your way around or through them.

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