Nature and Biodiversity

This concept yacht has a surprising power source

Environment plastic pollution oceans

The new boat's use of electricity, along with solar cells and wind turbines will make the boat 70% self-sufficient in energy. Image: The SeaCleaners

Lucien Libert
Reporter, Reuters
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Restoring ocean life

  • Yvan Bourgon and his team have designed a yacht which collects plastic garbage from the ocean and then uses it as fuel.
  • It is hoped that a prototype for this design can be launched in 2024.
  • Bourgon has said that if 400 of the boats were to be made, they could clean up one third of the plastic debris in the oceans.

A French ocean adventurer and his team have designed a yacht which he says can scoop up plastic garbage to stop it blighting the world’s oceans, and converts the same waste into fuel to help power the boat.

Yvan Bourgnon has spent his career racing sailing vessels around the globe as a competitive yachtsmen. Over the years, he said, his encounters with floating carpets of trash became more and more frequent.

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That inspired his new venture: the Manta, a 56-metre (183 foot) long catamaran propelled by a combination of high-tech sails and electric motors.

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Right now, it exists only on the drawing board, but Bourgnon and his team hope to turn into a working prototype that can be launched in 2024.

As the boat moves through the water, conveyor belts will scoop up waste, sort it, then feed it into a burner. That will melt the plastic, producing gas which drives a turbine, and in turn generates electricity for the boat’s systems to use.

That electricity, along with solar cells and wind turbines on the boat’s deck, will make the boat 70% self-sufficient in energy, according to Bourgnon.

He said that if 400 of the boats were to be made, they could clean up one third of the plastic debris in the oceans. He said even conservative estimates project that, by 2060, there will be three times more waste in the sea than now.

“To fold your arms and say ‘No, we’ll do nothing, we’ll leave it, we’ll focus on dry land, we’ll leave the waste in the ocean,’ is totally irresponsible,” he said. (Writing by Christian Lowe)

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