Manta is his new mantra. The Sea Cleaners association is working onthis virtuous and innovative boat, which is the figurehead of Yvan Bourgnon’s new life. As the "gladiator of the seas", present at the next Waste Forum, has set his greatest challenge yet: to find a viable solution to clean the oceans.
French-Swiss Yvan Bourgnon sailed around the world single-handed, without a GPS, on a non-habitable racing catamaran. He has come face to face with a three-metre-tall polar bear in the middle of the night and has participated in the most demanding sailing races. As an incredibly accomplished racer, skipper and adventurer, he has, over the past three years, started working in the field of ecology with The Sea Cleaners.
"When I was sailing around the world, between 2013 and 2015I was absolutely shaken by the pollution at sea caused by plastics. When I got back, we created the association to raise public awareness around this issue, and to develop a new, ambitious method of waste collection at sea. These two objectives are also the reason for my participation in the next Waste Forum, which will allow these commitments to be more widely known."
The Sea Cleaners are now half way through their studies. Tenders will be launched at the end of the year to build the first Manta, scheduled to be launched in 2023. This 70-metre long and 49-metre wide ship, weighing 3,000 tonnes will be "revolutionary" according to Yvan Bourgnon. The waste will be trapped by a system of conveyor belts immersed at a depth of one metre. On board, operators will sort organic waste, that will be returned to the sea, and recyclable plastics, which will be compacted, stored and brought back to land.
Non-recyclable plastics will be incinerated using a pyrolysis process to produce electricity. As the Manta also stands apartdue to its hybrid propulsion system; it will also carry two wind turbines and 2000 m² of solar panels. Thanks to this energy mix, the boat will be able to intervene quickly, in all contexts, returning to shore only every six to eight weeks. "We have found the best assembly to achieve energy autonomy, and we are finally inventing a new way of working on the sea” explained the navigator.
The ship designed by The Sea Cleaners will be able to collect between 5,000 and 12,000 tonnes of plastic per year. It will work primarily at the mouths of major rivers: at least 60% of marine pollution comes from one of the ten largest rivers in the world.
The Manta’s plans willbe free and open source, to encourage replication of the initiative in other countries. "If we could achieve a global fleet of 300 vessels, it would allow us to eliminate 30 % of the current pollution", says Yvan Bourgnon. "We believe in the virtues of mutualisation, because patents are obstacles to the dissemination of technological advances and we need to take fast action against marine pollution."
The association has not requested any public assistance so far and is financing the project thanks to thousands of crowdfunding donors as well as a dozen patrons. The preliminary studies have also yielded a wonderful surprise: a viable economic model is emerging. "The construction of the ship costs 30 million euros, but its lifespan is 30 years and the operating budget is low thanks to its energy autonomy. According to our estimates, the cost would only be 350 to 500 € per tonne of recyclable plastic, while in France the collection of yellow recycling bins costs on average 450 € per tonne!"
To find out more: www.theseacleaners.org