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Ocean Parabolic Cleaner

A Parabolic Floater to collect floating plastic debris on the surface of the ocean and river

  • The body of the Ocean Parabolic Cleaner, with hydrofoils installed on its leg

  • Variating sizes of fringes for diffraction of water , the curved protruded wall bypasses turbulences

  • An opening for plastic debris collection by capturing

  • The internal walls, the spacing of bottom walls are further away than the upper walls

  • A parabolic shape design to resist against winds and water currents

What it does

It solves the problem of plastic pollution on the river and the ocean by acting as a floating container that leverages the ocean currents to sail around; the velocity difference of the ocean currents and the system enables the trapping of the plastic debris.

Your inspiration

The pollution of plastic waste in the ocean has gotten increasingly pressing every year. The world faces a major issue of collecting debris from the ocean. Many irresponsible parties have dumped plastic waste into the river and the ocean, resulting in much plastic debris floating around in the ocean. We obtain the idea from Boyan Slat's invention and the design of buildings to resist tornadoes. Boyan's invention falls short when it comes to surviving storms and strong ocean currents, thus a bi-parabolic shape container is proposed, and it would be aerodynamically fit, the wind presses the container on the surface of the water.

How it works

To control the motion, the upper part of the bi-parabolic walls enables wind to press it down onto the surface of the ocean due to its shape, increasing the device's stability. In the middle part, the protruded curved wall is manufactured to enable surfing on the ocean. The fringes allow water to pass through which decreases turbulence and haphazard motion. The size of fringes varies, smaller at the front, bigger at the back, the larger surface area at the front in contact with ocean currents enables it to be pushed forward easier than sideways, aligning the device with the currents. The bottom part act as a kneeboard to slow down the rotation, and hydrofoils allow it to be pushed forward and surf. The back of this device is opened to allow plastic debris to be trapped in the zone, while an HDPE netting of nominal opening 2mm helps capture microplastics. The fringes allow the device to travel slower than the ocean and debris, thus enabling effective trapping.

Design process

Boyan's design is limited because of the high-stress region in the connecting tube, which links the sea anchor and the floater. which makes it easy to break in the event of facing strong winds or currents. Therefore, an integrated design is needed which could regulate its velocity. Two parabolic cone-shaped shells are merged, with their ends opened. The device could be divided into three parts; the upper part is aerodynamically fit so that it will be pressed down by the wind, decreasing its chance of toppling. The bottom part act as a kneeboard to slow down its rotation, to avoid losing all collected plastic debris due to random motion. The middle part has an opening to enable plastic to enter the trapping zone. But this design would just float aimlessly in the waters. Therefore, a hydrofoil is installed at the leg of the device, and the middle part walls are now protruded at the bottom to enable surfing. To allow smoother surfing, fringes are carved out so that water currents could pass through them, which also decreases the velocity of surfing since the surface area of the wall is now smaller, the faster-traveling debris could be trapped now. Then, HDPE netting is installed on the middle section wall to blockade and trap the microplastics, which are abundant in the ocean.

How it is different

The main difference between this design with the traditional litter trap installed on the riverbed is the ability to float. The litter trap, similar to Ocean Cleanup, is using a floater to capture the floating debris. However, two of them are both prone to storms, and floods, which would destroy the device. This invention differs from Boyan’s invention in several aspects. (1), our system does not contain a floating barrier, the protruded curved wall is an integral part of the system which serves as a container (trapping zone) of the plastic debris; (2) the inclusion of kneeboard to counteract against the rapid rotation of the system, to which Boyan’s invention relies on the flexibility of the floater to stretch and bend; (3) Boyan’s system is dependent on the wind and ocean currents to move around, but our system is depended on the ocean current as a mean of surfing and uses wind forces to press the system down to stabilize it, which could survive a storm.

Future plans

Future designs include the optimization of the shape and the suitable scale to be implemented. Since other solutions cost thousands of dollars to clean the ocean, the material being used to manufacture Ocean Parabolic Cleaner is cheap, therefore the design could be scaled to a much larger size to suit the needs of plastic debris retention. The shape could also be designed to be more dynamically fit to control its motion by depending itself fully on the ocean currents. We hope that with this design, we could deploy this low-cost device, which contributes to SDG14: Life Under Water, by protecting marine life from the harm of plastic debris.


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