Last year, we introduced you to two Australian surfers with a mission to clean the world’s oceans. Andrew Turton and Peter Ceglinski are the creators of Seabin, an innovative technology designed to sweep up ocean pollution often found around marinas and docks. The invention is created from recycled materials and is affixed to docks in pollution-heavy areas.
How does it work? A water pump sucks all floating trash and debris into a natural bag, before releasing the clean water back into the environment. The pump not only captures things like litter, but also liquid waste, such as oils, fuel and detergent. In December, Andrew and Peter were attempting to secure seed money to actualize their prototype. We catch up with them to find out where they are now.
Since last year, Peter and Andrew were able to use their Indiegogo campaign, now closed, to raise more than $267,000, exceeding their goal by 15 percent. Now, the Seabin Project is using a three-pronged approach to attack the global littering problem affecting today’s oceans. Not only are they using the Seabin product, but also education and research. They say their goal isn’t merely to use their device to clean up the world’s oceans, but to create a world where there’s no need for Seabins at all.
Current aims and goals include furthering the Seabin pilot program and educational initiatives, becoming a key player in the circular economy of plastics and creating collaborations with similar businesses who can use the plastics captured by Seabins in upcycling projects, rather than the captured plastics going to landfills or being incinerated.
Eventually, Seabin would love to use the captured plastic to create even more of their own product. However, currently the devices are created using rotational moulding, which only allows for the use of PE plastics. While Seabins do capture PE plastics, they also capture a wide range of other types of plastics that cannot be used in production at this time. In the near future, it’s hoped injection molding, which will use all of these, can be used to create the Seabins.
There’s only one problem with this great idea. Typically injection molding technology results in a weaker product, because the various plastics being used have all been exposed to the environment in different ways, resulting in different levels of breakdown and different materials during every production cycle. However, Seabin believes they can address this issue through a variety of sustainable methods. Mixing in natural fibers to strengthen the plastic is easily done through, for example, obtaining sawdust from timber mills, or using fiberglass from discarded boats.
The Seabin V5 prototype is under development in Palma Mallorca. The prototype process begins using a sketch, which turns into a 3D model printed in-house, which turns into a prototype for final testing. Fiberglass is being used for the prototypes before final product 3D files are sent to Poralu Marine, Seabin’s industrial partner, for serial production.
The latest version of Seabin, V5, features a few changes that differentiate it from the previous fourth version. Now, the device is capable of being affixed to permanent docks, not just floating docks, making it suitable for the entire marina market. In addition, this version moves up and down with the tide, and isn’t disrupted by boating wakes. It can also trap micro plastics that are as small as 2 mm, in a biodegradable catch bag that composts within two years. The team is also working to ensure the newest version uses the least amount of energy possible, while still operating efficiently. Currently, they’re trying to create a version which uses 24 volts of shore power, as well as renewable solar, wind and water energy.
The current and fifth version is being tested in-house in a 3,000-liter water tank. After that stage of testing, it’ll go to the Spanish yacht club based in Palma Mallorca for real-time testing. Once everything is perfect, production will begin. The first round of Seabins produced will be trialed by pilot partners for at least three months, who will give helpful feedback for even further improvements.
To receive more updates on Seabin’s work and development, keep up with the organization on social media, where they post regularly. You’ll find them at The Seabin Project on Facebook, and at seabin_project on Instagram and Twitter.