CT pioneers an autonomous, eco-friendly system for plastic waste capture in river and marine environments.

Plastic waste is suffocating our oceans, with eight million metric tons entering the waters each year—equivalent to a garbage truck’s load every minute. This crisis spans from the ocean depths to human health, as plastics infiltrate the entire food chain.

Using river currents to intercept waste before it reaches the sea offers an efficient solution to marine pollution, since it significantly reduces collection efforts. However, despite various technological explorations, a comprehensive commercial solution has yet to emerge.

The CleanCoastLine NGO has decided to confront this problem and has entrusted the mission of finding a technical solution to CT. As part of its commitment to sustainable development, CT started working on the design and development of a system to contain and capture debris in rivers, as well as other channels and marine environments.

This initiative has been named REPERA(Retrieving Plastic Ebb from Rivers Autonomously) and its main goal is to design and develop an experimental concept model of an autonomous system that efficiently recovers river waste by using physical barriers and air bubbles to detect, redirect and collect waste floating in the water before it reaches the ocean. This groundbreaking solution stands out for being:

  • a system using a passive floating barrier that allows river traffic while retaining and redirecting plastics with an air bubble barrier;
  • autonomous, leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning technologies for remote control and predictive operations;
  • highly efficient, powered by sustainable energy sources, and adept at detecting, collecting, and redirecting waste materials;
  • scalable, this concept model would be the basis for future versions of the system;
  • versatile, as the system can act as an air bubble column or physical barrier, or both, depending on the type of location where it is placed, such as inland waterways and estuaries, coastal maritime areas, etc.

The REPERA project is studying the needs and behavior of a complete system that encompasses everything from generating green energy to create the bubble curtain, to collecting and extracting the waste (which can include not only plastics but also certain types of oily waste), as well as the sensorization of equipment and the creation of a virtual model of the system.

The disruptive nature of the project lies in developing a solution that can predict various problems and facilitate decision-making based on artificial intelligence algorithms that read and analyze data obtained from sensors installed in the system’s components.

Furthermore, given that air, water and solid structures are involved, CT experts have used CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) strategies for numerical analysis/calculation and experimental testing, in order to replicate and analyze the multiphase fluid-structure interactions between the system and the environment in which it will operate.

The development of such a solution could revolutionize waste management and protect marine environments from the onslaught of pollution, demonstrating a promising avenue for environmental conservation and sustainable practices.

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