German Student Invents a Machine that Could Clean the Sea from Plastic Waste

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Most of us can’t even remember when we first went to the beach. Nowadays It has indeed become normal to spend our summers swimming in crystal-clear water. However, for many people on this planet this relaxing moment in the heat does no longer exist. Scientists found out that annually 4.8 to 12.7 million tons of plastic waste end up in the world’s oceans. The outcome of this is that in 2018 there are already around 150 million tons of plastic waste floating in the oceans worldwide.

The German ambitious architect graduate from Aachen Marcella Hansch has developed a model that could free the sea from plastic. Picture2

During her Master’s studies, the young woman travelled to Cape Verde. Enjoying a nice diving trip before working life begins, that was her plan. However, this plan turned into a shocking experience. “I swam through forests of floating plastic.”, she said. When she returned back to Germany from this experience she was in a state of shock, and promised herself that she would do her best to change the situation. She didn’t know how exactly, so she started to do some research and came up with the idea of screening the oceans for garbage with a machine.

The platform is 400 meters long and has a bulgy, fishbone shaped design. It goes as deep as 35 meters (100 feet) beneath the sea surface. This construction detail is necessary because streams flush plastic particles up to 30 meters below the water surface. Through the machines shape these streams can be calmed down. Like that, all the plastic particles can rise up by their own to the water surface where they can be collected by the machine.

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Unfortunately, it is impossible to recycle the plastic, due to a chemical reaction with the salty ocean water. That’s why a gas process is converting the plastic articles to carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The hydrogen will supply the fuel cells of the plant. Once again, algae are cultivated with the resulting carbon dioxide, from which biodegradable plastic is produced.

 The German Woman worked passionately for the past five years on her project next to her full-time position as an Architect. Although there are more than 30 volunteers helping her working on ‘Pacific Garbage Screening’, the team urgently needs someone to take over the coordination and write funding applications, as she mentions.

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They have managed to raise 200,000 Euros through crowdfunding. Even if that sounds like a lot of money, it’s just a start-up funding for the first six months. “Before we can realize the project, we first have to scientifically prove that the platform works well.”

This requires feasibility studies and technical simulations, which are very expensive. Marcella doesn’t know yet how much the platform will eventually cost. “I hope we can be ready in five years to build a first prototype,”she says.

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