Gareth Huw Davies

Environment Blog / Green Technology

Solar powered collector to clean up Pacific plastic?

An unmanned solar powered collector that would criss-cross the North Pacific siphoning up plastic?

And why not? It’s a hefty pollution problem, and one it is particularly difficult to see human solving directly.

This is one of the bright ideas coming out of a joint initiative between Sony and WWF, who want to hear smart wheezes to use ¬†technology to solve problems, and make the most¬† of the planet’s resources.

The idea is to deploy an as yet unbuilt (see the concept illustration above) automated solar, wind and biofuel powered, GPS-navigated ships to gather plastic waste floating in the north Pacific.

The debris would be collected by maintenance ships and recycled on the mainland.

The sun would be the main driver of this initiative. The proposed vessel is based on the solar powered PlanetSolar catamaran. There could be also a wind turbine on deck, with back up power from biodiesel/gas/ethanol/hydrogen powered generator.

The waste would be collected with two sets of rotating paddlewheels, one in front part for larger waste and one in the back for smaller particle filtration.

When nearly full, the vessel would signal to operations control, and a connecting boat would be sent out, to bring the waste back to land for recycling.

This is one concept among many in the Sony WWF programme. A four-week process to evaluate 300+ ideas starts December 14, 2010.

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