Today, Tuesday 8th June is the World Ocean Day 2021, a United Nations (UN) day to raise awareness about ocean protection for our lives and future generations. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 is to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.” Thus, many startups and innovations are developed to protect the environment, the ocean, and its living inhabitants.
We have chosen to present 6 startups that stand out with innovative ideas and solutions to protect the ocean, based on emerging technologies.
Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit organisation, founded in 2013 in the Netherlands with the specific goal of collecting 90% of the plastic that is thrown into the ocean by 2040. Thus, this startup has developed a cleanup technology system that moves with the same currents as the plastic garbage. Using this natural oceanic forces to clean up the plastic already in the oceans is particularly productive and cost-effective. The technology has been designed to concentrate the plastic first, before it can be effectively removed from the ocean.
The system consists of a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and skirt that hangs beneath it and collect the debris. Once it is full, a ship comes to remove the collected plastic. The photos below show the system 001/B in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2019 and the detailed view of the floater.
(Source: The Ocean Cleanup)
The Ocean Cleanup is currently working on developing a full-scale and scalable system (System 002), which should be deployed in 2021.
Plastic Odyssey was created in 2017 in Marseilles, France, with the goal of developing open source technologies (low-tech and patent-free) to easily recycle waste and create other useful objects. Through their expedition around 3 continents, they test new technologies in areas that are extremely affected by plastic pollution. They try to build small transposable and adaptable recycling plants according to the needs of each region they stop by. Practical solutions can be for instance compacting machines to facilitate the transport of plastic waste, extruders to convert plastics into objects, and shredders to reduce plastic waste into smaller particles.
(Source: Plastic Odyssey)
Ichthion was founded in 2017 in the UK. This startup designed an innovative technology to remove consequent volumes of plastic for rivers and oceans. They deploy three types of technology streams: Azure (for macro plastic in rivers), Cobalt (for micro and plastic particles in rivers and coastal areas) and Ultramarine (for dynamic system for ships). For instance, Azure is an enhanced barrier designed for deployment in rivers to prevent plastic waste from reaching marine environments and can collect up to 80 tonnes of plastic per day from any river.
(Source: Bolina Booms- Azure system in an Ecuadorian river)
Their goal is not only to remove plastic waste but to generate data that could be used to inform governments about the pollution entering the waterstreams.
Cubex Global is an Omani startup using blockchain to save shipping carbon emissions. To do so, the company buys and sells available container space from usual cargo ship routes. According to Wajiha Khalid Paracha (UpLink), over 100 million shipping containers are 50% empty while traveling from port to port, which produces 280 million tons of carbon emissions and generates a loss of $25 billion USD every year. Cubex Global's innovative concept is to use a blockchain-enabled online marketplace that optimizes empty cargo space and can reduce shipping carbon emissions.
The startup also won the Ocean Innovation Award for the World Economic Forum's UpLink challenge.
Arc Marine is a UK startup, founded in 2015 by Tom Birbeck and James Doddrell. To save the marine life of the ocean and create some oxygen, this startup has invented “reef cubes”, manufactured from marine-friendly waste materials, that can help to boost large-scale coral restoration projects. According to Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer, “The idea of a carbon-neutral Reef Cube that can be used to help rehabilitate reef ecosystems is exciting – we really need to do everything we can to give coral reefs a break”.
Furthermore, it is the only carbon-neutral, plastic-free solution for marine habitat restoration in the world. With their patented solution, reef structures can be created anywhere in the world allowing “anyone from scientists to remote fishers can contribute to rebuilding reef systems”.
Brim Explorer is a Norwegian startup co-founded in 2018 by Agnes Árnadóttir and Espen Larsen-Hakkebo. This startup conducts ocean excursions with silent hybrid-electric ships. Its electric propulsion system is an innovative green technology that aims at reducing pollution and at remaining a sustainable alternative in the travel industry.
The startup also chosed to use recycled and low-carbon aluminum. Larsen-Hakkebo said that they used aluminum for its unique properties (lightweight, lower carbon footprint), which was a good fit to the hybrid-electric propulsion system.
The fact that the ship is silent and made of aluminum contributes to the preservation of the marine life.
These 6 startups are just some of the many companies that contribute to the protection of the ocean through innovative concepts and technologies. What is your opinion regarding these startups? Have you heard of any other emerging technologies or innovative projects for the ocean?
If you want to know more regarding the World Ocean Day (UNWOD 2021), here is the link to the United Nations related-site: https://unworldoceansday.org/education/