Although the world’s oceans supply us with food, medicine, and power, they’re under constant threat from pollution. Diesel engines leak oil and fuel into the water and release toxic particulates, single-use plastic contaminates the water and marine life, and deafening noise from seismic tests, sonar, and marine vessels disrupts the ecosystem, often with fatal consequences.
Life in the ocean is being assaulted on multiple fronts, but some ingenious minds have developed solutions to combat ocean pollution. Here are 10 incredible inventions to eliminate ocean pollution.
The 10 Inventions To Stop Ocean Pollution
1. Candela P-12
Recreational and merchant shipping vessels burn fossil fuels and release contaminates, but one environmental threat that has only recently been connected to marine vessels is noise pollution. Shipping container vessels are massive ships with powerful engines, and their propellers can generate 190 decibels of noise underwater.
The Candela P-12, the world’s fastest electric passenger marine vessel, represents the future of marine transportation for commerce and travel. Although it’s not on the same scale as an industrial ship, it’s a small step towards reducing ocean pollution. The 30-passenger ship glides above the water and creates smaller wakes to protect vulnerable coastlines. It travels up to 30 knots, and the zero-emission motor does not leak oil or make as much noise as a conventional marine engine.
2. Intelligent Fishing Nets
Discarded fishing nets can trap and kill marine life and become tangled around propellers. Researchers are testing smart fishing nets to reduce waste and decrease the number of accidental killings. Although biodegradable designs show promise, one of the most innovative fishing nets is the Glaucus intelligent fishing net.
It’s an autonomous device that uses sonar and electronic sensors to search for specific fish species. When the fish are collected in the net, it uses a three-stage compartment to sort them according to size. Because it avoids young fish often discarded from conventional nets, it reduces waste and prevents marine animals from accidentally being trapped and killed.
3. The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup is an environmental organization using a massive (600-meter) floating pipe to collect plastic marine waste. Cleanup projects conducted in 2021 were successful, and The Ocean Cleanup hopes to eliminate 90% of the world’s floating plastic by 2040. Currently, the collection pipe is collecting waste from the ocean’s largest plastic mass: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The deplorable floating mess consists of 1.8 trillion plastic pieces and is located between the waters of Hawaii and California. It’s estimated to be three times as large as France and twice the size of Texas.
4. Edible Packaging
Plastic water bottles and disposable containers account for a substantial percentage of the ocean’s waste, but engineers and entrepreneurs are developing edible and biodegradable packaging. Most consumers may not eat the package after devouring a sweet treat, but unlike plastic containers, the edible products will break down when tossed in the garbage. Recently, Skipping Rocks Labs produced an edible water bottle made from algae, sodium alginate (a natural thickener), and calcium chloride. The double membrane design is strong enough to hold water, and the unused inedible section of the bottle biodegrades in less than 6 weeks.
After two Australian surfers recognized the growing problem of ocean pollution, they developed a floating trash bin for marinas and ports. The Seabin moves with the tide as it vacuums oil and garbage from the water’s surface and jettisons clean water back into the ocean. One Seabin container can collect 8.6 pounds of waste every day. Seabin has 354 units in use today that have collected 1.42 tons of ocean waste.
6. Bacterial Enzyme
Plastic water bottles take up to 1000 years to decompose in a landfill, and less than 10% of all used plastic in the United States is recycled. Carbios, a recycling research firm based in France, discovered a helpful enzyme to rid landfills of plastic.
In 2012, a bacterial enzyme was discovered under a pile of composted leaves, and after experimenting with several formulas, Carbios developed a product that can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The enzyme only takes 10 hours to depolymerize 1 metric ton of used plastic bottles. Opaque, colored, and transparent bottles can be used with the enzyme, and the end product can be used to produce more bottles.
7. Sponge Suit
Although its name may not appeal to anyone looking for attractive swimwear, the Sponge Suit is a two-piece bikini developed by researchers from the University of California Riverside. The suit is made from an absorbent material that collects toxins as you swim or float in the ocean, but the wearer is never exposed to the contaminants. The Sponge Suit can collect 25 times its weight in ocean toxins, and it’s expected to be available to the general public soon.
8. Marina Trash Skimmer
Unlike the Seabin, the Marina Trash Skimmer is a stationary collection device that can be mounted in large marinas to keep the waterways clean. The internal components contain skimmers that collect oil and trash, and the durable outer shell can withstand storm damage. In addition to plastic and paper trash, the Marina Trash Skimmer also removes organic debris to save marina owners on dredging costs.
The Wasteshark, designed by Ranmarine, is an autonomous cleaner that functions much like a robotic vacuum cleaner for the ocean. It’s deployed near shorelines to prevent waste from reaching land, and it can collect 1,100 pounds of plastic, algae, and biomass every day. Most of the Wastesharks in use are in Europe, but the United States, Dubai, and South Africa also use them for marine cleaning.
10. Plaxx Technology
Recycling Technologies, a recycling firm in Great Britain, has developed a process to convert plastic waste into oil. The company plans to test one of its recycling machines in the ocean eventually, but it has only tested the technique in London. The plastic recycling machine melts the plastic into a vapor using 932° F of intense heat. When the substance cools, it can be used to fuel marine engines, sold to cosmetic manufacturers, or converted into shoe polish.
What Can You Do To Reduce Ocean Pollution?
Innovative products and efficient cleaning systems can clean the ocean and improve life for marine animals, but keeping the sea healthy also requires help from concerned citizens. If you want to help, here are some ways you can participate.
The planet’s oceans are polluted with plastic and chemical waste and assaulted with seismic air guns and noisy marine engines, but several environmentally conscious companies and entrepreneurs are racing to develop solutions to clean the seas and protect marine life.
The devices and techniques we discussed are revolutionary, and they’re already making a difference in the fight to save our oceans. However, more funding and international cooperation are required to protect our greatest natural resource and the creatures that depend on it for survival.
Featured Image Credit: OCG Saving The Ocean, Unsplash