Harnessing renewable energy to prevent plastic pollution from reaching deep sea.

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F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I. (Floating Long-term Oceanic Autonomous Trawler Incorporating Buoyant Object Identification) is an aquatic robot that uses optical sorting to identify and collect marine plastic pollution near coastlines. F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I. is powered by a combination of solar and wave energy, and is one of the first active, intelligent approaches to combat coastal marine plastic.

The Problem:

There are an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic trash in the ocean, with an estimated 8 million added each year. 7.764 million out of the 8 million tons added annually are macroplastics. Plastic pollution like water bottles, plastic bags, and styrofoam from coastlines face no barriers getting out to deep sea, where they break down into microplastics, becoming more difficult to clean up. These microplastics negatively affect marine biodiversity and ultimately, all life on the planet. 

The technical capabilities to create some solutions to marine plastic pollution mostly exist, but resources - time and money - haven’t yet been invested in engineering projects dealing with this issue. NOAA estimated in 2015 that cleaning up less than 1% of the north Pacific Ocean would cost between “$122 million and $489 million for the year” using large boats with nets for the cleanup. Also, existing solutions to prevent plastics from reaching deep sea have no means to distinguish between plastics and marine life, further endangering those species (yikes!). 

The Solution:

We're building  F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I. (Floating Long-term Oceanic Autonomous Trawler Incorporating Buoyant Object Identification) - a method to actively prevent plastic from going out to sea by collecting it in nearshore waters while it is still mostly intact.  F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I  will harness renewable energy to keep its carbon footprint low, and artificial intelligence to aid with object identification.  Addressing the high overhead and operational costs by creating a much lower-cost solution focusing on prevention rather than cleanup will allow us to make more progress towards stopping plastic from entering our oceans in the first place.

  • Captain's Log 4: First Design Drawings

    Sanjana Paul07/16/2018 at 21:02 0 comments

    We have a bunch of different design ideas floating around (get it) for F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I, and here's an initial one.

  • Captain's Log 3: Power System Research + Calculations

    Sanjana Paul07/12/2018 at 20:58 0 comments

    One of the key components of F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I is that it is meant to be powered by renewable energy. There is no shortage of energy sources out in the ocean - why let it go to waste?

    As mentioned in our details section, F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I is meant to be powered by a renewable energy system. This system would likely be specific to F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I, but the concept could be extrapolated and scaled to any marine robotic project. 

    We primarily plan to use wave energy, solar power, an wind energy. There are numerous instances of USVs (Unmanned Surface Vehicles) using these sources of power already (you can check out some examples in our landscape analysis file!).

    Once we determine what motors we plan to use to drive F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I, we'll have a much better idea of the power footprint. Until then, a tentative power system parts list:

    Lithium Polymer Batteries

    Solar Panel(s)

    Charge controller(s)

    Wave power foil

    wind turbine(s)

    One current idea is to have the wind turbines be able to rotate 180 degrees from the air into the water on less windy days to take advantage of any turbulence in the water from F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I's movement, movement of plastic trash, etc. Any thoughts or suggestions?

  • Captain's Log 2: Updated Detail Section

    Sanjana Paul07/12/2018 at 20:53 0 comments

    Based on some recent research for the project - just updated the detail section! This should provide more information, context, and motivation for the F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I project overall.

  • Captain's Log 1: Landscape Analysis

    Sanjana Paul07/12/2018 at 19:37 0 comments

    When we came up with the idea for F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I, we wondered if anyone else had already made something similar and make sure that we accurately scoped the problem. Enter the F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I landscape analysis - the first step of our project! You can find it in the link below.

    F.L.O.A.T.I.B.O.I Landscape Analysis

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Callan Mackay wrote 09/13/2018 at 22:53 point

Sounds like a cool project! I was wondering about your wind/water turbulence turbine idea with the 180 degree flip. I'm not sure a design like that would work underwater as the boat would move with the waters motion, it would need something to push against. However! something I have wanted to do for a while is use an underwater hydrofoil to use wave energy for passive propulsion. Sorry if you've already mentioned this, I read through it quite quickly. 

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Mike Szczys wrote 07/09/2018 at 21:22 point

Sounds like a great entry for the Power Harvesting Challenge! You still have a week to get your proof of concept documented!

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