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Remora is a system used to reduce the volume of plastic soup floating in our seas as a byproduct of industrial fishing and the "ghost net" phenomenom.

What it does

Remora is a system used to reduce the volume of plastic soup floating in our seas as a byproduct of industrial fishing and the "ghost net" phenomenom.

Your inspiration

All of us come from places where the sea is a source of income, but also a main leisure and destiny. Since the beginning of our project our aim was to reduce the amount of plastic waste that floats in our oceans. According to our sources up to 30% of the polymer soup in the sea comes from activities directly related with the ocean and not from inland dumps. Abandoned fishing nets are a source of the 100 million ton of waste that float in the sea. Before decomposing into thousand of plastic bits, these "ghost nets" carry on capturing fish and marine mammals. "Ghost nets" are a threat to the environment, but they are also an issue for the fishing industry, as they reduce the quantity of fish in the places they wander.

How it works

Rémora is a system which consist of 4 elements, a purse net, RFID Tags, an RFID reader and an app for smartphones. These four elements work in synergy to rationalise the impact of industrial fishing. The new net is fabricated exactly like the existing nets, with the single difference that polyethylene is mixed with d2w® additive. These causes the product to start biodegrading after 4 years, this is the end of its life cycle. The RFID tags grip to the net, but not in a uniform pattern. Their presence becomes more dense the closer they get to the "bag" of the net. This is the most important area, because it is the place where all the tuna is pushed to before lifting it from the sea. A ripped piece of net here is a bigger issue than any other part of the net. After deploying the net, it's 36ha of plastic pass through the puretic power block. Here it is where the standard RFID reader is located. It counts the remora tags and the finds out which pieces of net are missing. After the net retrieval the fishermen receive a report from the app where they can check the missing pieces of net and intervene adequately to fix the problem instead of searching manually. If pieces of plastic remain in the sea, they can be retrieved, or the co-ordinates of the ripped net are shared with net recycling organisations like Healthy Seas Org. A part from reducing plastic waste, Remora offers a life cycle that saves 54% of energy per net, from 470MJ to 194MJ.

Design process

Early on our investigation we focused on the tuna seining industry. (The standard purse net size is 200m x 1800m). We discovered some countries charge fishing companies when they discard the enormous plastic residue that industrial fishing nets become. This causes some crews to anonymously dump the huge nets on tho the sea. However, other countries pay fishermen for their old nets in order to avoid the "ghost net" phenomenon from happening. It is extremely easy to dump unwanted pieces of net on international waters and remain unpunished. We believe the lack of penalisation is is an unavoidable situation, so we worked with it as an starting point. Organisations like Healthy Seas Org retrieve nets in the open sea to recicle them. Our intent is to make these institution work in synergy with the industry. Why do these nets get dumped? Every time a seining boat deploys the net, it gets broken. The wholes produced are very difficult to locate in between 36ha of polymer, and ripped pieces of plastic are lost in the sea. Major flaws require bringing in specialised workings by helicopter who suffer harsh conditions and limited space to deploy the net and assess the problem Our aim was to produce prototypes that achieved the maximum effect without disrupting the process of an industry that have been carefully optimised to obtain comercial profit. The first prototypes were injection moulded plastic cases that housed a "Bluetooth Low Energy" antenna that could be installed single handedly and that were attached with an existing industrial union: plastic zip ties. However this iteration added too much weight on the net, offered flotability problems and bluetooth turned out to be the incorrect technology for our purpose. Our next set of pro types investigated the idea of light and thin sheets of polyethylene with d2w® additive (which makes it biodegradable). These sheets were laser cut in a pattern that optimises the surface of material used. It's size is the minimum required to house an RFID tag embedded by printed electronics. The first PE prototype with two grips didn't allow for the net to correctly deploy and fold back. They deformed the shape of the tissue. The next set had three gripping points (like animal claws), which allowed the net to function properly. The "safety orange" is the standard used for all maritime emergency equipment. The final prototype hydrodynamic and can be installed single handedly, so it doesn't interfere in the net's functioning.

How it is different

Future plans


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