ICES Clean Ocean Project (COP)



Ocean pollution is one of the more serious problems threatening our planet, with impacts that will remain for decades to come, unless immediate action is taken. Many species of fish, seabirds and other sea animals are already endangered by such ocean pollution, and recent research indicates that human beings as well are dangerously exposed to this toxicity through the seafood that we eat.

Therefore, cleaning the ocean of this pollution is one of the most urgent projects to be undertaken by the global community, and although there are initiatives in different stages of development in different countries, the problem is so huge that it is better that multiple projects be undertaken, simultaneously.

The ICES Foundation, through its network of experts, ecology orientation and global outlook, will assist in this effort by initiating its own Ocean Cleaning Project (ICES OCP) during 2017.

ICES OCP Description

Our intention is to design the following multi-stage system, with partners:
a. The detection of plastic waste in the ocean
b. The collection of this waste at sea
c. On-the-spot shipboard transformation process, from plastic into energy materials
d. The simultaneous desalination of sea-water
e. The transport to shore and sale of the energy materials and freshwater

We are discussing with the University of Zurich advanced satellite based sensor technology capable to detect floating plastic waste. Such technology will be used to locate concentrations of floating plastic at sea, and directing ships to arrive in the vicinity for collection and processing. The sensor detection units will be deployed by commercial launch facilities that are monitored by ground based facilities

The collection ships will be equipped with drones to first inspect the waste at the indicated locations, and then, with the assistance of a flotilla of autonomous marine robots and large collection nets, collect the waste and bring it to a ship for processing.

The onboard transformation from plastics into energy, will take place through an innovative chemical process, based on technology developed by the Technical University of BRNO and the EVECO company (both in the Czech Republic). The process consists of 3 major flows; the raw material flow, the incineration using gas generated by the transformation process itself (input flow), and the pyrolysis (output flow). 

Hans Derksen, ICES Foundation Industry Advisor, will provide project coordination and leadership of the ICES OCP. There will be a first phase feasibility study, including project set up, definition of the components and identification of the additional research needed. The second phase includes the technical design of the overall framework, deep technical studies of the individual processes and the selection of suppliers. A final preparation phase will package the project for presentation to the appropriate funding and investment sources before the start of actual project implementation. All told, these three preparation steps will take 9 months and require approximately Euro 250K. Hans will engage the Swiss Innovestors Group in the project.