Students In Hawaii Built A Vacuum Cleaner That Sucks Up Microplastics From Sand

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With the oceans awash in plastic, beaches and islands around the world are waging an uphill battle in the constant struggle to manage the plastic debris washing ashore—particularly the millions of tiny microplastics that are almost impossible to sift from the sand.

Students In Hawaii Built A Vacuum Cleaner That Sucks Up Microplastics From Sand

With the oceans awash in plastic, beaches and islands around the world are waging an uphill battle in the constant struggle to manage the plastic debris washing ashore—particularly the millions of tiny microplastics that are almost impossible to sift from the sand.


In Hawaii, though, authorities hope that the new project developed by a team of mechanical engineering students from Canada will manage to clear the tiny debris from state beaches without impacting sand on the beach.


The plastic vacuum cleaner, developed by twelve students from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, is named the Hoola One and was initially developed as a school project.


Hoola One co-founder Sam Duval said that he and his classmates were inspired after watching a video online of Kamilo Beach on the southeast coast of Hawaii’s big island, that is tragically called “Trash Beach,” earning infamy as “one of the dirtiest places on earth.”


Ocean currents shove tons of trash onto Kamilo, 90% of which is plastic and other garbage from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. So the plastics leach carcinogenic toxins and chemicals into the marine environment, with plastic debris endangering—and ultimately killing—marine wildlife.


Like any vacuum cleaner, the giant machine uses a handheld hose to suck up plastic and sand before dumping it into a massive tank of water. As the plastic floats to the top of the water, the sand sinks to the bottom so it can be returned to the beach.


When a prototype of the machine was tested in April 2018 on Kamilo beach, the students ran into a few technical problems—they were, however, eventually able to iron out the kinks and get a bit of work done.


The group left the Hoola One prototype behind as a donation, and currently hopes to raise money from both the public and private sector to build other versions of the machine, like smaller vacuums.


Ocean pollution has reached such massive proportions that approximately 100 million tons of plastic can now be found in the planet’s oceans, according to the UN. Between 80% and 90% of it comes from land-based sources. A report prepared for the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, showed that by 2050 it’s estimated that plastic waste in the ocean will outweigh all fish.


Nevertheless, with new inventions such as Hoola One and The Ocean Cleanup Project’s System 001/B, we hope that human ingenuity will manage to clean up the massive mess we have made that is piling up on beaches around the world.


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Thinking Humanity: Students In Hawaii Built A Vacuum Cleaner That Sucks Up Microplastics From Sand
Students In Hawaii Built A Vacuum Cleaner That Sucks Up Microplastics From Sand
With the oceans awash in plastic, beaches and islands around the world are waging an uphill battle in the constant struggle to manage the plastic debris washing ashore—particularly the millions of tiny microplastics that are almost impossible to sift from the sand.
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