Global warming, climate change and rising sea levels are red flags of an impending environmental disaster. Only 9 per cent of the total plastic waste in the world is recycled, and the remaining 91 per cent becomes a part of landfills or is conveniently dumped into oceans. When fish and other aquatic animals eat that plastic, thinking it to be food, they choke on it and die, thus disturbing the marine ecosystem in Indian rivers and oceans. However, Bengaluru-based AlphaMERS is doing more than its bit to withhold as much waste as possible and send it for recycling.
For instance, the company deployed a floating trash barrier (FTB) in Tamil Nadu's Cooum river to collect waste in 2017. Within a year, the barrier captured 22,000 tonnes of debris, which included 2,200 tonnes of plastic waste, Sekhar, the founder of the company, tells The Logical Indian. Initially, the company started by working to reduce marine oil spill response, which required sophisticated equipment and provided the much need financial backing to the company. With continuous Research and Development, they designed a river cleanup barrier made of steel, mesh and chains.
No Electricity Required To Collect Trash
While speaking to The Logical Indian over call, Sekhar shares that the Cooum river in Chennai had a terrible reputation. He said, "We removed 22,000 tonnes of trash, including 10 per cent of plastic. Currently, the FTB is in 8 cities and recently, it was placed in the Musi River in Hyderabad". While explaining their work in Bengaluru, Sekhar told that a barrier had been deployed in an inlet in Ulsoor lake. The floating barrier does not require any electricity to function and stops all the trash from getting into the lake while allowing the water to go past.
Besides that, the company has also focussed on building technology to trap silt. Silt is a massive problem because when the silt accompanies water flow, it fills up inside the dams and reservoirs. The trapping of the silt and FTB mechanism have no use of electricity at all. However, once the waste and the silt are on the riverbank, removing it from the bank requires fuel and electricity.
Other Important Innovations By AlphaMERS
Moreover, the former Merchant Navy Mariner has also developed a mechanism to harness energy from the ocean waves. Sekhar, who started working on the WEC in 2016, had first developed a test tank in Bengaluru to test the initial design. Subsequently, a model was developed to be tested under controlled conditions at the IIT Chennai wave basin. Wave Energy Converters (WEC), where part of the system is seated on the seabed, have logistical challenges of deployment and siting. Lastly, Sekhar has also developed Hydraulic robots in another startup, used to clean crude oil tanks in oil tank farms. The compact and effective robots reduce the man entry risk due to the explosive and toxic atmosphere inside these tanks.
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