According to the United Nations, more than eight billion tons of plastic have been produced over the last 65 years, a mere nine percent of which has been recycled. As scientists continuously look for new ways to clear out the plastics that have become ubiquitous in oceans, a Canadian entrepreneur is working on a sustainable solution that could fuel a cleaner future.
Michel Berthiaume is the co-founder of OceansUnited, a fledgling not-for-profit company that is focused solely on ridding our oceans of plastic. Its plan is built around a technology called hydrothermal liquefaction, which uses extremely high temperatures to liquefy certain plastics and convert them into biofuel. For the past couple of years, OceansUnited has spent millions of dollars on improving the technology so that it can process any form of plastic.
Now, the non-profit has managed to build two units of the augmented technology which can convert 50 tons of plastic into 43,000 liters of biofuel daily. Best of all, the whole process is contained to a single ship, a catamaran ferry, which will collect the plastics and feed them to one of Berthiaume’s machines.
The goal is to have the first ship operational by April next year, with the idea being that donations and proceeds from selling fuel will eventually lead to five operational ships working on the open seas.