Dr Boudewijn Decrop, IMDC nv, Belgium
This project aims to develop a flexible and modular system for plastic waste removal from rivers and waterways. About 90% of the continuously growing plastic garbage patches in the marine environment are assumed to originate from waste and litter dumped in rivers and waterways. The consortium of 5 partners, each expert in their own domain, disposes of all expertise required to develop in a multidisciplinary approach an effective plastic waste collecting system of which the efficiency can be measured and proofed with undisputable data.
The concept includes the design of an operational and reliable plastic waste collecting system. This system - called MArine River Cleaner (MARC) - is based on a floating structure at a fixed position with air bubble barriers guiding the floating plastic waste to a mechanical removal and disposal system, operable 24/7 in tidal rivers and ports as well as in waterways with a fixed current flow. The system is designed to operate energy neutral by using a combination of wind, solar and tidal energy generators. The MARC will be developed to allow for a safe, efficient and cost-effective operation.
The claimed performance of MARC is supported by the development of mathematical models for the behaviour of plastic waste in typical river biosystems and the actual monitoring by the collector system. Novel technologies combined in this project are: sustainable energy provision, hydrodynamical modelling, behaviour modelling of plastic in water, inline monitoring of micro-plastics, low-flow tidal turbines, 3D digital twin model. The design will kick off with a head start as a number of the required tools are already partially available. For this reason, and because of the fast developments and environmental urge related to this topic, we aim at a relatively short time frame.