Yvan Bourgnon, captain of the first ocean garbage boat

Posted on 21 November 2017.

With his association, The Sea Cleaners, Yvan Bourgnon has designed a boat capable of collecting plastic waste in the ocean, helping to address one of the great environmental challenges of the century.

The multihull has a storage capacity of 600 m3, which corresponds to about a hundred tons of plastic waste.

The sailor Yvan Bourgnon always follows his challenges, sports and ecological, through to the end. In 2013, the sailor embarked on a mad adventure: an "old-fashioned" journey around the world on a 6-metre long catamaran with no cabin or GPS, only paper maps and a sextant to guide him. For twenty months, sailing at the level of the water, he discovered with dismay the extent of plastic pollution in the ocean, especially near the coast.

Experts estimate that eight million tons of plastic are released into the sea each year. At this rate, there may well be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 alerted a report by the World Economic Forum.

Waste retains its initial shape for about a year in water. Then, depending on the type of plastic, it either sinks to the bottom of the sea or disintegrates into hundreds of nanoparticles. At the mercy of the currents, plastic ends up joining the oceanic gyres, forming gigantic plates of floating waste. This is the famous seventh continent of plastic that is six times the size of France. Managing this plastic pollution is undoubtedly one of the greatest environmental challenges of the 21st century.


Filter boat

Following his journey around the world in 2013, Yvan Bourgnon decided to take action. He created the association The Sea Cleaners  and designed a new generation boat capable of recovering plastic with the objective of recovering waste near the coast during its first year in the ocean before its disintegrates or sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

The boat is expected to be ready for launch in 2021 as time is needed to build this extraordinary boat. 60 m long and 49 m wide, it will be the biggest quadrimaran (four hulls) in the world. At the back of the boat, harrows inspired by the mouths of manta rays will make it possible to filter the water and collect the waste, depositing it in the hulls via a conveyor belt. With this invention, the boat's name is very appropriate: Manta. During recovery, the boat will not travel at more than 2 knots to avoid trapping marine mammals in the harrows.

The multihull will have a storage capacity of 600 m3, which corresponds to about a hundred tons of plastic waste. This guarantees the crew a two-month autonomy before needing to return to port to unload. Once brought back to land, the waste will be transported to recycling centers. Plastic effectively stays fairly pure during its first year in the ocean and 80% of it can be recycled.

Ultimately, the aim is to build other boats of this type. The Sea Cleaners has also planned to make the Manta's plans available in open source so that countries and companies can take ownership of the project. This solution may be of particular interest for coastal countries or islands, for which coastal preservation is a major issue.

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