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Proceedings of the ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition IMECE2011 November 11-17, 2011, Denver,

Colorado, USA

IMECE2011-65510
A MODEST PROPOSAL1 FOR THE REMOVAL OF FLOATING RUBBISH FROM THE NORTH PACIFIC CENTRAL GYRE
David W. Gerlach United Technologies Research Center East Hartford, Connecticut, USA

ABSTRACT Floating plastic debris collects in large rotating ocean currents termed gyres. These regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean have been called the Great Garbage Patches and received a great deal of sensational reporting in the media. The patches consist of small fragments of debris suspended in the first few meters of water. There have been several proposals and research projects on methods to catch the debris in nets or otherwise remove it from the water. The plastic must then be disposed of. This paper proposes that the captured plastic material can be incinerated on board the vessel to produce heat for driving a Rankine cycle or producing pyrolysis oil for use in a diesel engine. The resulting power could then be used propel the vessel and the waste heat to dry the incoming plastics. The energy budget of the process is analyzed showing that the energy consumed and the plastic fuel value gathered are of the same order of magnitude. INTRODUCTION Floating plastic debris collects in large rotating ocean currents termed gyres (Figure 1). These regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean have been called the Great Garbage Patches. Some overly dramatic news reports have even implied that there was a large island or carpet of plastic. In reality the plastic is a much more diffuse and spread through the water column with approximately 54% of manufactured plastics being negatively bouyant [2]. Although reduction of plastic pollution at the

source would be best, others have proposed collecting the debris [3, 4]. However, it has been unclear how much energy and effort would be required to collect the debris.

Figure 1: Location of North Pacific gyre (from [5]) CALCULATIONS Small displacement hulled boats such as recreational trawler yachts (See Figure 2) and small fishing trawlers are considered due to the availability of fuel consumption data. Data from a variety of internet sources [7-10] were used to develop an equation for the fuel consumed per horsepower as a function of speed (Figure 3).

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Copyright 2011 by United Technologies Corporation

Figure 2: Small recreational trawler yacht [6] These values do not include the added power needed to overcome the additional drag due to the collection device. This work will assume a 10% increase in fuel consumption due to the net.

Figure 4: Length of fishing circle as a function of vessel horsepower for nonherded volume nets (After Eigaard et al [10] Figure 4) By combining this information the fuel consumption and plastic collection mass can be calculated. Assuming that the plastic has the same energy density as diesel fuel, the ratio of energy collected to consumed can be calculated (Figure 5).
20

Ratio of energy collected to energy consumed

18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0 2 4 6 Vessel speed (m/s) 8 10

Figure 3: Fuel consumption per horsepower of small displacement hulled vessels as a function of speed Data from Eigaard et al. [11] is used to calculate the fishing circle (circumference of the net opening) as a function of the boat horsepower. Data for the nonherded volume (NHV) nets was used due to the smaller net mesh than the other net types studied. However the NHV openings (<50mm) are still larger than that needed for collecting plastic particles. Using the fishing circle data and assuming that the top 1.5 meters of ocean is swept by a rectangular net, the net area can be calculated. Moore et al. [12] measured a significant variation in the density of plastic in the North Pacific central gyre, varying from 64 to 30,169 g/km2. The average value of 5,114 g/km2 will be used in this paper.

Figure 5: Ratio of energy collected to consumed for a 500 hp vessel as a function of speed. DISCUSSION Figure 4 indicates that the amount of plastic collected can considerably exceed the energy expended, especially at slower speeds. The plastic could be incinerated and the resulting heat used to drive an organic Rankine cycle or a steam cycle. Alternatively, the collected plastic could be pyrolyzed to produce syngas for use in a diesel or turbine engine. The relative conversion rates

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of plastic to non-condensable gas, pyrolysis oil, and char are highly dependent on the makeup of the original material and the conditions, e.g. temperature and pressure, of the pyrolysis reaction [13-15]. Using the efficiency of conversion of rubber tires from Murugan et al. [13] as 55% oil and 6% gas and the engine efficiency of 27%, the total waste to shaft power conversion is 16.5%. However, Murugan et al. [13] discarded the gas and blended the pyrolysis oil with regular diesel fuel at a maximum fraction of 75%. This would require the vessel to carry and continuously burn an auxiliary supply of diesel. In contrast an organic Rankine cycle could simply incinerate the dried waste and use the complete heating value of the fuel to drive the engine. However, the lower efficiency of the ORC (~10-15%) leads to a similar overall efficiency. A more detailed comparison of these options including exergy losses in each step is required. The captured plastic would need to be dried in order to improve its heating value. Waste heat from the engine could be used to dry the material. However simple drying would leave the sea salts in the material leading to high ash content and slagging in the combustion or pyrolysis chamber. Both the water and salt content of the debris could be reduced by centrifugation. CONCLUSION The calculations in this article are based on curve fits to sparse scattered data. The exact ratio of energy captured in the plastic versus energy consumed by ship propulsion is highly dependent on the form of equations used in the curve fit. Thus the only firm conclusion is that the ratio is of the order of unity. Further analysis based on more detailed data is necessary to confirm feasibility. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author would like to thank Michael Pol of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries for providing invaluable assistance in finding reference [10]. REFERENCES [1] Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public. 1729. [2] Lattin, G.L., C.J. Moore, A.F. Zellers, S.L. Moore, S.B. Weisberg. A comparison of neustonic plastic and zooplankton at different depths near the southern California shore. Marine Pollution Bulletin 49 (2004) 291294.

[3] http://www.gyrecleanup.org [4] http://www.projectkaisei.org/ [5]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:North_Pacific_Gyre_W orld_Map.png [6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cruising_trawler.jpg [7]http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f109/trawler-fuelconsumption-33311.html [8]http://www.nordhavn.com/atw/news/southernboating_jul y02.htm [9] http://www.bayacht.com/trawler.htm m [10]http://www.richardhancock.com/commercialtrawler.ht

[11] Eigaard, Ole Ritzau, Dominic Rihan, Norman Graham, Antonello Sala, and Kristian Zachariassen. Improving fishing effort descriptors: Modelling engine power and gear-size relations of five European trawl fleets. Fisheries Research 110 (2011) 3946. [12] Moore, Charles J., Shelly L. Moore, Molly K. Leecaster, and Stephen B. Weisberg. A comparison of plastic and plankton in the North Pacific central gyre. Marine Pollution Bulletin 42 (12): pp. 12971300. 2001-12-01. Accessed May 2011 at: http://www.alguita.com/gyre.pdf [13] Murugan, S., M.C. Ramaswamy, G. Nagarajan. Assessment of pyrolysis oil as an energy source for diesel engines. Fuel Processing T echnology. 9 0 (2 0 0 9) 6 7 7 4. [14] Uslu, Ayla, Andre P.C. Faaij, P.C.A. Bergman. Pretreatment technologies, and their effect on international bioenergy supply chain logistics. Techno-economic evaluation of torrefaction, fast pyrolysis and pelletisation. Energy 33 (2008) 12061223. [15] Lin, Kuen-Song, H. Paul Wang, S.-H. Liu, Ni-Bin Chang, Y.-J. Huang, H.-C. Wang. Pyrolysis kinetics of refusederived fuel. Fuel Processing Technology 60 (1999) 103110.

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