DAILY EXPRESS 26 JANUARY 2016
- The innovative SeaVax is powered by sun and wind
NEW CLEANER SEAVAX HAS SOLUTION TO OCEAN PLASTIC WASTE
PLASTIC waste is choking the life out of the oceans, but could new British invention SeaVax come to our rescue?
The roaming, satellite-controlled aluminium platform powered by sun and wind operates like a giant vacuum cleaner, chewing up and compressing the toxic garbage.
Unveiled recently at a government-backed Innovate UK show, SeaVax’s relevancy was brought into sharp focus last week following a scientific survey’s revelation that by 2050 trash in the oceans will outweigh fish stocks.
But it is its scope that sets it apart from other solutions currently being considered, says designer Bluebird Marine Systems (BMS), a small company in Lewes, Sussex, working on environmental innovations.
“With our system all sizes of rubbish, from huge fishing nets to deadly micro particles, can be swept or sucked up, ground down and stored in SeaVax’s tanks,” explains project director Chris Close, 27.
Sensors help detect the rubbish and sonar technology protects marine and bird life from getting caught in the 160 ft long vessel. Its compacted cargo is then either collected at sea or returned to port for recycling.
After year’s work by BMS, a group of five engineers working in their spare time, SeaVax has passed proof of concept stage.
The business has already had an approach from India to develop a clean-up solution for the heavily polluted Ganges river and other interest from Nigeria and Australia including its potential for dealing with oil spills.
But now SeaVax is plunging into the prototype phase where strict regulations governing unmanned, known as autonomous, vessels must also be navigated.
Once an improved patent is granted, the project will have taken £138,000 and a year to develop, most of that self-funded with help from a few private investors. A European network, including universities and sub-contractors, is also contributing expertise.
“We have used off-the-shelf and recycled components so far, but now we are on the brink of something much bigger,” says Close.
“I compare our development as similar to that of the windscreen wiper, where all the parts existed but the application changed everything.
“One of the problems about finding a solution for oceanic plastic pollution is it should be international. The SeaVax is more than a survey ship, and our improved patent should help with any autonomous vessel issues. We also have an alternative for inshore waters that could be manned.”
While Close looks to raise £50,000 for the next round of patent protection and to progress development of a ‘RiverVax’, several millions more is going to be needed as soon as possible for product development so Britain maintains a lead in the field and is ready to meet the growing demand internationally.
“Innovate UK gave us a free stand at its show which has helped put us on the map, now we are looking to Europe and government for the next stage of serious backing,” says Close.
“Much of what is available depends on match-funding and that is not something with our set-up we can deliver at present. Had we been in California it might have been easier.”
If SeaVax can launch, it sees licensing the technology internationally as its best business model, with customers for fleets ranging from waste management companies and port authorities to government agencies.
“Our SeaVax is like a beautiful Manta ray fish helping keep our world pristine and rejuvenating food stocks,” adds Close. “Some may think it foolish to pin our hopes on a socially-minded billionaire pitching in, but that’s what it may take.”
or for more details about Innovate UK and its support for firms pioneering scientific and technological solutions to help the economy, visit
Has passed proof of concept stage
DIRECTOR: Chris Close with the SeaVax model
The innovative UK show where the where the clever invention