Boat brings green message to Bermuda

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  • Race for Water (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Race for Water (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A vessel powered only by the elements is berthed in Bermuda as part of a five-year voyage.

Race for Water, which is in Bermuda through early July, is travelling around the world to promote ocean preservation, including publicising a new technology touted as capable of turning plastics into energy.

The ship will make stops at international events during its voyage — including the Tokyo Olympic Games, in 2020, and the Universal Exhibition of Dubai, in 2021.

Marco Simeoni created the Race for Water Foundation in 2010. Following the first scientific expedition in 2015, the Swiss entrepreneur said it became clear that ocean cleanup would not solve the problem of plastic pollution.

“We quickly realised that the long-term solution was here, back on land,” he said.

“It is absolutely essential to prevent plastics from leaking into the ocean.”

According to the foundation, if disposal continues at its current rate, there will be more plastic than fish, by weight, in the ocean by 2050.

A new technology, Mr Simeoni said, made it possible to covert plastic into energy — either in the form of electricity or gas.

The conversion is done through a gasification process, wherein materials, including plastics, are heated at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. The decomposition of plastic creates a synthetic gas called Syngas, composed mainly of hydrogen and methane.

The foundation developed the technology with partner ETIA. A machine utilising the patented process is currently in production, the foundation said, with a fall delivery expected. A six-month pilot project will follow.

The sale of created energy would then allow for the street collection of plastic to be compensated, in the same way it is for other recyclables.

The vessel itself is also designed to promote energy transition, the foundation said, equipped with solar panels on the upper deck and two detachable wings of the catamaran, and a kite which extends to a height of 150 metres.

An on-aboard unit also allows seawater to be turned into hydrogen, which can then be reconverted to electricity.

It is the first boat in the world to do this, Mr Simeoni said.

Mr Simeoni said the catamaran also exemplified to island nations reliant on fossil fuels — such as Bermuda — what is possible.

“The Race for Water vessel, which operates solely on energy from the sun, water and wind, is an energy transition model for islands that have the same natural resources.”

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Published May 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm (Updated May 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm)

Boat brings green message to Bermuda

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