WasteSharks – Taking a bite out of water pollution
The state of the planet, and particularly our bodies of water, is becoming of greater concern every day. Some estimates are that one million plastic bottles are sold every minute across the globe, many of these ending up in waterways.
One man who is making a massive difference in that regard is Cape Town’s own, founder of RanMarine and the WasteShark – a marine vessel designed to both clear unwanted material from inland and near-coastal water, and to collect water quality data from the marine environment – that’s now operational in 12 countries around the world, including South Africa.
“The purpose of the WasteShark is to remove waste, litter (plastics) and harmful algae from the surface of the water. The idea is that, very much like a small autonomous vacuum cleaner… this machine can operate in a similar fashion, cleaning the water constantly,” explains Hardiman.
“Our purpose is to develop technology to make our world a more liveable place and ease the pressure humans are adding to our fragile water resources and ecosystems”
“The WasteShark and our developing platforms are part of the greater vision of making collection of waste and pollution in water more efficient, less costly and ultimately less harmful than current methods used,” he adds.
1. When was the WaterShark invented?
The WasteShark was invented as a concept in 2013 but wasn’t developed into a first prototype until 2015; in 2016 the founder Richard Hardiman was invited to enter a maritime accelerator in Rotterdam, the Netherlands where he received funding to develop the first version of the WasteShark we know today.
2. What was the motivation behind its invention?
The original idea came about when Richard saw how marine litter was then being cleaned by water authorities, using small boats and pool nets to remove the litter. Richard thought he could design and come up with a more effective way to remove waste from water using drones. The original motivation was a desire for greater efficiency but also led Richard into the environmental space where he saw just how effective new technology could be in helping our planet.
3. Where is the WaterShark being used? Where did it start off and how has it grown over the years?
The idea and concept were developed in Cape Town, South Africa and the very first prototype was built and tested there. Subsequently Richard moved the business to the Netherlands to develop the product and business further. Since 2016 drones now operate in the EU, Ireland, the UK, South Korea, India, Australia and the USA amongst others.
4. What purpose does it serve? How does it function?
The purpose of the WasteShark is to remove waste, litter (plastics) and harmful algae from the surface of the water. The idea is that very much like a small autonomous vacuum cleaner you may have in your house, this machine can operate in a similar fashion, cleaning the water constantly. RanMarine has developed two versions of the product, one that is remote controlled and an operator can remain on the quayside while cleaning and capturing waste. The second version is an autonomous robot that can be set to clean an area without human intervention and return with waste once it is full. It uses onboard lidar as collision avoidance and collects water quality data as it goes using sensors mounted onboard.
5. How does the product omit emissions?
The WasteShark uses batteries to operate so it does not emit any emissions while it is in use – like a battery-powered car, the WasteShark can be operated up to 10 hours a day on a single charge.
6. Are there any plans to further develop the WasteShark, and what do those plans look like?
RanMarine is launching a larger version in the next six months capable of removing one ton of waste in a single load, this has been developed over the last few years and will be on sale in the middle of the year; we are also developing a docking station which houses up to five WasteSharks at a time, empties their baskets automatically and recharges them making it a total autonomous solution where humans are only required for oversight.
SA Sailing in partnership with World Sailing are committed to reducing waste and together have released a cobranded Sustainability Education Programme for sailing clubs and parents as part of the 2030 Agenda of Sailing’s commitment to global sustainability.
If you would like to see WasteShark in your local waters, please contact RanMarine today and start the journey of reducing waste in South Africa.
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