Little Poseidons Saving the Ocean!

I have worked as a scuba diving instructor for over 10 years and always had a passion for the ocean and protecting it. For the last two years working with the GREEN INNOVATION GROUP we have mapped over 100 ocean tech startups and SMEs; I have learnt a lot. Last June, we also had the pleasure of hosting the 7 Seas Summit in Lisbon, Portugal and two of the startups that participated: Plastic Fischer GmbH and AguaPlus are game changers.

I have worked as a scuba diving instructor for over 10 years and always had a passion for the ocean and protecting it. For the last two years working with the GREEN INNOVATION GROUP we have mapped over 100 ocean tech startups and SMEs; I have learnt a lot. Last June, we also had the pleasure of hosting the 7 Seas Summit in Lisbon, Portugal and two of the startups that participated: Plastic Fischer GmbH and AguaPlus are game changers.

Ocean: the Unknown World.

The number of species living under the water is truly impossible to be counted. Yet nowadays, it seems to be that they are not the only presence innumerable; a National Geographic article suggests that there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean and this keeps on increasing at every minute, even while reading this.

We have adverts, news, social media post, which are passed around that talks about “save the earth”, but at the same time, we see ourselves taking off a plastic bag at a supermarket just for two apples.

“An innocuous temperature increase of 0.1 centigrade per decade in surface waters has led to rising sea levels (1 mm per year), a 20% reduction in phytoplankton affecting all levels of marine food chains, more extreme weather, and increased coastal erosion – ultimately threatening human infrastructure and food security.” 

The Horizon Scan: Ocean Technologies for a Better World’ written by GREEN INNOVATION GROUP for The Velux Foundations well explains above about the process of our environment and ecosystems getting destroyed and why ‘little drops of water make the mighty ocean;’ this would be more of a double-edged remark in this context I am going to talk about.

Blue Innovation 1 - Plastic Fischer GmbH

There are a number of start-ups that are diligently working on solutions to save the current resilience of ocean ecosystems, which I would like to call “the little Poseidons”. The 7 Seas Summit 2019’s Best Pitch Winner Plastic Fischer is the first example.

“We had to see to believe.”

The team of Karsten Hirsch, Moritz Schulz, and Georg Baunach say that the scenery of shockingly massive bunch of plastic waste filling up a part of Mekong Delta was not only a true shocker for them but also the starting point of their business, which led them to come up with their current innovation. They have developed automatic collection systems that are water-powered, which collect floating plastic junks in rivers, in order to prevent further pollution of the water and reintroduce plastic waste into the economic system. The collected plastic is then sold back into the supply chain, whereas the ones unrecyclable would be stored and utilized as ‘eco-bricks’. In the core of this concept, they were sure that the technology would have to be as affordable as possible, so it can be easily considered as a solution in developing countries, especially for the oceans from Asia which in fact 82% of ocean plastic gets to enter

For the past months, the team is in this project of cleaning Citarum River in Indonesia, one of the dirtiest rivers in the world, with support of the local government BBWS SO and Winongo River Community. The locally-made Plastic Fischer Containment Boom is a product of their sheer hard work. Throughout workshops, in-site surveys, and different product development stages, they managed to build a system composed of a floater (a PVC pipe) + catching net (galvanized stainless steel mesh) with two wire ropes with a weight attached at the bottom connecting each other, which ensures that the waste does not float underneath. They put a stress on that they can take prompt action since they don’t rely on the shipping of parts and customs. The trash booms can be purchased at only 35€ which you can put your name on and then will be used as a part of the meaningful solution for the Indonesian rivers.

Blue Innovation 2 - AguaPlus

AguaPlus is the other Poseidon that gives a creative solution to a problem such as extreme evaporation of water inside reservoirs along with constant algae blooms in dams and sea. AguaPlus excogitated these original lotus-looking boom barriers with special plants inside.

 

These gigantic plant gardens in circles, magically floating on the water, control the sunlight passing through and decrease the rate of evaporation. What happens then? It ultimately keeps harmful algae from being generated! The plants are regularly vacuumed inside boats and treated to be later used as food for fish and other animals, as well as maintain the water quality by absorbing nitrates, the culprits who make it difficult for fish and aquatic insects to survive.

Environmental Impact of Ocean Technologies

‘Horizon Scan: Ocean Technologies for a Better World’ shows that companies in ocean technology nowadays aim to solve pertinent sustainability issues and explore the untapped resources of marine bio-economies, especially focusing on 1) sensors and digital systems (43%), 2) remediation and preservation (38%), and 3) mechanical and autonomous systems (36%) after thorough analysis on 121 cases (in Danish context).

  1. Sensors and digital systems: “The future regulations on aquafarming would significantly require the sensors and digital systems since it meets the equilibrium of price-quality, meaning pollution monitoring and environment inspection with higher precision at a much lower cost.”
  2. Remediation and preservation: “A sharp increase in recent years. It should be noted that most of the identified cases either seek to remove plastic pollution through mechanical devices or to utilize said plastic in consumer / industrial products. Therefore, the best solution in the preservation seems to be those that support the removal of plastic and other pollutants before they even reach the oceans.”
  3. Mechanical and autonomous systems: “The automated drone fleets would simultaneously provide a stream of data to real-time 3D maps of water conditions, fish stocks as well as any human activity in those regions. Combined with satellite photography, this implementation would lead to a drastic decrease in unmonitored overfishing, and provide new magnitudes of data to inform national and international decision making.”

If you are looking for, or, desire to become one of the little giants who would save the ocean, GREEN INNOVATION GROUP‘s Scouting as a Service and GREENTECH CHALLENGE may have the key to help you open the doors.

More of the in-depth analysis on blue ecosystems as well as the prediction for the next 5 and 20 years in ocean technology can be found in ‘The Horizon Scan: Ocean Technologies for a Better World’.

(Co-written by Christopher Storey and Chihe Choi)

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