The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most polluted seas.
Increased discharge of nutrients due to greater populations of people, together with a slow water exchange, creates great stress on the sea. Too much nutrients leads to increased growth of algae and causes problem in the ecosystem.
Even if we reduce nutrient discharge the problem still exist in the ocean. When algae dies and sinks, more nutritional substances is produced called "internal eutrophication". This phenomenon will grow in the future due to a warmer climate and the problem is spreading towards the coastal zone, which is an important site
for fish recreation.
By removing the abundance of algae, the nutritional and toxic substances are reduced and the algae biomass can be a future resource for biofuel production.
Inspiration and Method
The situation in the Baltic Sea is very complicated to understand and it required several interviews and meetings with experts/researchers in this field.
The project was inspired by different types of marine equipment such as garbage collectors, oilspill cleaners, etc. after a lot of thoughts of how to tackle the problem i ended up with four different concepts. These were evaluated with marine biologists and analysts and we developed the concepts further into one idea. We found that the hydrodynamics of the machine was very important for the project. Algae is not coherent as oil so if water mixes around the algae the concept loses its purpose. Other requirements is that the machine can work in shallow areas such as bays and be mobile to cover large areas and also be adapted to the environment so that it is perceived as natural.
For the hydrodynamic requirements i tested different shapes on wings, hulls, and other parts and tested these in a small scale simulation. The concept works similar to a lawn mower so the algae shouldn't drift behind the machine. The area behind should only be clean water. To meet this requirement, pontoons where added to the design.
When i found the right archetype i started to develop the aesthetics. Because it is a vision, the concept should feel 2030 and and simultaneously be perceived as trustworthy.
Many machines are not adapted to their environment focusing only on the functionality. A big part of this project is to adapt the machine to its environment.
The algae sea collector is a vision improving an environmental
problem using the algae biomass as a future natural resource.
This turns the problem into an advantage.
By removing the surface blooms of algae:
- Less nutrients in water
- Reduces toxins
- Prevents spread of anoxic sediments
- Improves reproduction of fish
- Improves tourism industry
- Health care products
The vessel pumps algae and water into a dewatering system and separates the biomass from water. Algae biomass is stored in a tank and water is used as thrust to move the vessel forward.
This can be adjusted for speeds between 1-3 knots.
The concept is based on hydrogen fuel cell technology with two electric-driven pumps. One for each side. This makes the vessel quiet and more adapted to its environment. The only emissions from hydrogen fuel cells is water and heat. Heat is used to dry the algae biomass.
Surface blooms are often concentrated at the surface and reaches 1 meter down in the water. The lower wing can be adjusted to cover a maximum depth of 1,5 meters.
It’s operated from an external cockpit located in a service boat nearby which also empties and refuels it when needed.
This can be done while the machine is still working
to make it more efficient.