SEA & RIVER VAX project overview


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Combined plastic discharge coupling and survey drone landing pad.


150 ton holding tank for collected ocean or river waste.




5083 alloy hull for corrosion free service life. Specifications.



Large 220 m2 area of photovoltaic panels as arrays that track the sun autonomously.

Up to 20kW wind turbines boom mounted to track wind autonomously.



Trimaran hull configuration for stability at sea.

Modular construction to simplify production.







Large (patent) 2-stage 13.5 meter filter-collector head to vacuum up plastic particles - with adjustable operating height and safety features to protect marine life.



2015 - SeaVax started life as a project by Bluebird Marine Systems with the build of a 1/20th scale proof of concept model (POC) that was exhibited at Innovate UK on the 9th and 10th November. The idea was to create a vessel that can clean vast areas of water using only solar and wind energy, to avoid adding to global warming. It was seen as a tool to recycle a valuable resource that is presently being wasted and is damaging marine ecology.


According to the United Nations, plastic pollution is conservatively estimated to have a yearly financial damage of 13 billion USD. The costs stem from the plastic’s impact on marine life, tourism, fisheries and businesses.



Chris Close with the SeaVax model sucking plastic from a test tank


OCEAN CLEANING MACHINES - This is what SeaVax looked like in 2016. The draft specification is for a vessel capable of filtering seawater using only energy from nature, so not adding to climate change and acid oceans. The vessel needs to be of a size to cope with 8 million tons of plastic entering the sea every year, operating in numerically containable fleets to transport recovered plastic to land for recycling.



2016 - Bluebird Marine Systems (BMS) built a robot lab and a water test tank, then conducted model trials in water where micro and macro size floating plastic put in the tank was recovered by the POC model quite effectively proving the filtration concept. BMS conceived a low cost portable boatyard that doubled as an amphibious beach launching system to reduce production costs. This phase of development was supported by crowdfunding via Avaaz. BMS suffered a significant net loss during this time and could not keep operating as it was.



A low cost portable boatyard with launch and recovery capabilities


2017 - The Cleaner Ocean Foundation took over SeaVax to keep the project alive, further developing the SeaVax portable boatyard theme (launcher) called AmphiMax in 1/20th scale to demonstrate low cost production possibilities. An application for Horizon 2020 funding in 2017 was not ranked high enough in the pecking order putting the project back a year. Three trademarks were secured at no cost to the Foundation. The rebuild of a VW tour bus for ocean awareness events continued at a slower pace (an ongoing project) for future promotions.




2018 - Through 2018 workshop facilities were improved by volunteers to include lining a leaking underground water tank with GRP to empty the water basin into, fitting fans to be able simulate storm conditions and adding a gantry loading system for the water test tank.



Emily Hoad, marine biologist on the beach at Seaford Head



Seawater filtration was advanced with help from a postgraduate marine biologist from the National Oceanography Center, Southampton. A 10 Year Plan was published and lobbying of the G20, United Nations and other international organizations began, attracting encouraging replies, but no offers of financial support.





2019 - In this year Patent rights relating to energy autonomous vessels were donated at no cost to the Foundation. A smartphone ocean awareness game is nearing launch and a quarter scale test rig is being developed to prove the wind and solar energy harvesting theory of the SeaVax concept at quarter scale, with input from a masters degree student from Université de Liège, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech. A patent application is being drafted in relation to ocean cleaning and filtration based on unpublished research. Again, at no cost to the Foundation. Ocean literacy is also important to make the public aware of plastic waste, such as the free SeaVax game and VW Tour Bus being painted. Compared to Boyan Slat's Ocean Cleanup Project, SeaVax has cost around $650k to develop compared to a reported $31m for the boom system, but then the boom project is far more advanced, being already out in the ocean undergoing development. As with the boom system, any ocean cleaning vessels are sure to be subject to design and conceptual improvements as we learn more.



Chris Close, SeaVax project director





Funding dependent for 2020, the plan is to float a budget 12 meter coastal test rig, building on what has been learned from 2015 to 2019. The term 'coastal' includes river and offshore workboat. Funding is the main obstacle to progress. The EU, G20 and UN will not pay for ocean cleaning.


Against that tide of irresponsible governmental nose thumbing the project may go kicking and screaming into the cauldron of commerciality. The groundwork for which is a patent application, publication and grant that is itself dependent on the availability of a champion.


Should this build eventually find backing, commercial or otherwise, the design will be modular so that as additional support is achieved, other modules can be added as dedicated work packages - hopefully, involving more university collaboration in Europe and Internationally.


After successful build and sea trials, the next modules (work packages) would be the stages of the collection and filtration head, much of which development would be in the Foundation's test tank and workshops  - hence at low cost to potential associates - before bolting into the coastal development vessel.


The Foundation is also looking at other ways of cleaning rivers of microfibers upstream. See Fionn Ferreira's emulsion extraction experiment as one example with some potential. There are of course others.


SeaVax would work well to cover aspects of ocean cleaning that The Ocean Cleanup Project might not cover with their proposed fleet of drift-booms.


While waiting for political and policy changes of heart in relation to funding, the energy harvesting system might be further developed with the Climate Change Challenger - a vessel design that uses the same solar and wind harvesting system - only to transport people and goods zero carbon.







Many see plastic packaging as a menace that has no virtues - and at first sight we would have agreed that as it stands - plastic for packaging is crazy where there is no safety net.


Whereas, if a system can be developed to effectively recycle plastic on land, in tandem with recovery and recycling from the oceans - then we will have created a plastic cycle that is circular in concept and sustainable. The carbon footprint for plastic is lower in many cases than other packaging mediums. We have a duty to explore the possibilities given the harm we are causing to nature with packaging and climate change. We need climate and ocean friendly packaging.



Twelve meter river and coastal development ocean plastic cleaning boat



Funding being the main limitation as to the speed of development, lobbying is seen as vital to further research as a more dedicated drive toward support for ocean cleaning projects - not just SeaVax - we include any and all promising ocean cleaning projects like the samples listed below. Crowdfunding could help with costs not supported by grants, such as lobbying administration. Corporate sponsorship from like minded concerns is also a possibility for ocean awareness campaigns. At this time volunteers support the project with generous help and free facilities.





* Adidas

* Algalita research foundation

* Aliance to end Plastic Waste

* Boyan Slat's ocean booms

* 4Ocean recycled plastic bracelets

* Earth Day ocean plastic fact sheet

* Fionn Ferreira's ferrofluid extraction of microplastics

* Greenpeace

* 5Gyres Institute

* Junk Raft - plastic expedition

* Kulo Luna graphic novel

* Ocean Voyages Institute

* Ocean Waste Plastic

* Parley AIR

* Plastic Free Eastbourne

* Plastic Oceans Canada

* Plastic Oceans Org

* Plastic Oceans UK

* Recycling Technologies Ltd

* Rozalia Project

* Seabin

* Sea Litter Critters

* SeaVax autonomous drones

* Surrey University PIRATE & Triton

* World Oceans Day







The development log-jam stems from the fact that nobody is willing to accept responsibility for recovering plastic in international or in territorial waters. Hence, there is no customer - and without a customer - there is nobody to charge, hence no business.


Beach cleaners do not charge for sweeping beaches, they are funded by charitable donations and volunteers. Councils do not pay them for cleaning the beaches, but they do pay (and charge householders and businesses) for sweeping the streets and emptying bins. Yet (in the UK) the shore belongs to the Crown, and there is a 10 mile territorial coast.


Logically then, the Crown should either pay contractors to sweep plastic from their waters, or provide that service themselves. In India and the USA, the Government (municipalities) are paying for river cleaning.


In the UK there is a £0.05p tax on plastic bags that could be paid to beach cleaners to offset their costs. For example, the Waitrose supermarket chain in the UK supports the Marine Conservation Society from the bag tax.


If it were that nations bordering shorelines were to agree to pay for landed plastic collected in their geographical region, we might pass the SeaVax project to any waste recycling business willing to carry forward the torch, when they might devise a Business Plan and attract investors.


Until then we have a stalemate situation, with marine life suffering as a result of indecision.


The Foundation will write open letters to the G20 and the United Nations this year to confirm acceptance or refusal of responsibility for plastic emanating from their rivers and shores.






Whale shark about to eat a plastic bag


WHAT DRIVES US - It is pictures like this whale shark swimming in garbage that it is about to ingest that makes our blood boil. What are we doing, letting a situation like this develop? The fish eat the plastic and we eat the toxic fish. We are slowly poisoning ourselves and our world.





AMUSING OR SAD? - Incredible how some people blog before thinking. We wonder where they imagine development money comes from to design and test something as innovative as an ocean cleaning machine on this scale, or how one raises a profile in order to attract investment for research. The project was not commercial or profit motivated and lost money consecutively over three years, despite volunteers working for nothing and crowd funder generosity. Some writers appear not to understand renewables and what is possible to harvest from nature. They also fail to comprehend how much harm they can do from unthinking remarks, just for a cheap thrill from seeing their comments in print, potentially libelous at that!


All progress depends on research from those who are brave enough to give it a go and determined enough to go from the drawing board to cut metal for experimentation. That is the hard part.


Any fool can spout an uninformed opinion without breaking a sweat. As a matter of fact, the SeaVax proof of concept model did scoop plastic during a test-tank simulation with ample power derived from nature. Sufficient money was not raised to scale up and do the same at sea (as of Oct 2019) to please the minority naysayer. As the pollution problem worsens, it might be that something has to be done. What has any naysayer done about the 5 plastic gyres?


"Be the solution, not the pollution."








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