PLASTIC ODYSSEY, great epic of the millennium
Plastic Odyssey already interests the media. A brilliant vision, a technical, human and social challenge, this epic born in 2016 has for main thread "Around the world powered by plastic ". Let’s go for a fast overview of a highly innovative project.
This exciting project arose from the fertile minds of two French realistic young sailors: Simon Bernard and Alexandre Dechelotte, both merchant navy officers and ENSM. To alive Plastic Odyssey, Benjamin de Molliens and Bob Vrignaud, both engineers, joined the team.
All have the soul of adventurers, passionate by nature, social progress and new technologies.
Sailing world tour thanks to plastic wastes
During port calls, Simon saw the omnipresence of plastic wastes which ultimately invade the oceans.
For some time, expeditions aim at cleaning up seas. For him, it is time, on the contrary, to clean the poor and polluted coastal zones, particularly in South America, Africa and Asia. But what to do with collected waste?
With Alexandre, they imagine a floating laboratory which, from port to port, recovers and recycles the plastic waste to transform it in fuel.
The major element of Plastic Odyssey project will thus be a 25 m catamaran propelled with non-recycled plastics.
On board, a low-tech recycling unit sized as a standard container will transform the wastes into oil. The technique already exists on a large scale in the United States, it will be necessary to miniaturize it! Here is the founding axis of the project.
Local recycling of plastics to alleviate poverty
Interested by circular economy and social impact, Alexandre also sees in the project a means to reduce poverty. Part of the collected waste is recyclable but the concerned zones do not arrange adequate equipment. Sorting machines will be displayed onboard and the ship will welcome recycling workshop opened to anybody around during the calls.
The goal is about building local networks of recycling jobs and thanks to the embarked technologies, making the plastic waste valuable; a first step towards the reduction of coastal pollution. Here is the second aim of Plastic Odyssey.
Three engines to clean up, to engage and sail
How many of grey matter to lead such a project?
Head of partnerships, Benjamin enlightens us on the future embarked transformation processes:
- A scanner inspired by infrared spectroscopy used in the recycling industry
- Extruder, presses and weavers adapted for modelling plastic waste into furniture, building bricks, insulation, etc.
- A containerized pyrolysis unit transforming plastic waste into fuel
Head of engineering, Bob coordinates development and manufacturing. Such a responsibility knowing that Plastic Odyssey plans to embark cheap, small-sized machines, simple to use and easy to fix. Mass production is yet planned to equip the small entrepreneurs in recycling of the polluted zones.
Race against the clock for an interactive project
Two years already that these fantastic four work on it full-time. A major stage happened on June 15th. The 6m prototype of the ship built thanks to the investors and by means of Roland Jourdain and Michel Desjoyaux, great French sailors, was presented. Then will come the construction phase of the flagship.
And then, three years of shipping from March, 2020 till 2023, marked out by thirty stopovers on 3 continents.
Benjamin de Molliens evokes a huge organization: a route drawn according to local urgency, a sea route studied according to technical imperatives (slowness of the ship, winds, risks of piracy, etc.) and three weeks stopovers with a social objective which requires finding local relays. Finally, the constitution of rotating crews of 6 or 7 persons, naturally managed by Simon and Alex. Fortunately, numerous volunteers in diverse skills already bring their help.
To communicate its action, Plastic Odyssey will embark a team of videographers for broadcasting on social media and a documentary movie exposing issues and emerging solutions.
In the meantime, Benjamin calls back the crucial needs of the moment "such a project requires a several million budget we have not reached yet. We also quickly need to enrich the technical partnerships, in particular around adaptation of the pyrolysis to the boat".
The ship will go back home but the project will continue to expand. This will be time for manufacturing machines and on-line publishing of open-sources blueprints and tutorials.
Finally, Plastic Odyssey is considering setting up an international coalition of protection of the sea centered on the recycling.
The team sees exploration as a way to help in the development of local economies.
Benjamin adds that they feel as explorers of the social innovation.
Remember, the synonym for odyssey is adventure!
Even if - contrary to Ulysses trip - this one is perfectly chosen, we dare to mention: "Happy who like Simon, Alexandre, Benjamin and Bob are going to make a wonderful journey …"
What an amazing Project...We wish you good luck!
To know more about the project, you can visit their website
As well as Plastic Odyssey Facebook Page