Solar Powered Ship of the Future Arrives to Save the Ocean

Domingo sailed this week with the Race for Water Odyssey, the first boat powered by solar energy, which anchored in Lima to give us a message: there is a solution for all the plastic that we throw into the sea.

A turtle entangled in plastic bags!

This morning the sailor Anne Le Chantoux spotted floating in the sea the shell of a turtle that, apparently, had died drowned by a plastic bag. He saw it through his binoculars while the Race For Water Odyssey (R4W) ventured into the Peruvian sea.

“If you stay an hour looking at the sea, you will always see plastic no matter how far you are from the coast,” says Annabelle Boudinot, second captain and bunkmate of Anne, implying that what happened to the turtle was not an accident.

No other species beats man in his foolish race to fill the oceans with waste, especially with plastic debris. We are unaware that the bottle that we throw into the sea could end up in the stomach of a whale or that our bags could suffocate a sea lion.

The plastic is killing the marine animals. A year, 1.5 million birds, fish, whales and turtles die, according to the French Research Institute for Development. In addition, it is estimated that in 2050, at the rate we are going, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

That is why this week anchored in the Limean coast, the R4F Odyssey, a Swiss boat that has crossed the Atlantic, making stops in islands and coastal cities, to alert us about the future of our seas and about possible solutions to slow down pollution. In itself, this boat is a hope.

Sun, Wind and Water

Anchored in front of the beach of La Punta, Callao, the R4W Odyssey looks like a weirdo. The boat made of carbon fiber, similar to a catamaran but without sails, rests on two sliders that look like their legs while the hull is born two platforms as if they were wings.

It has no equal in the bay. He left Lorient, France in April 2017, and already has more than 9 thousand miles traveled. This will be the second time he will go around the world.

The Swiss businessman Marco Simeoni is the head of the expedition and the leader of the crew of the R4W Odyssey, recognized as the only one hundred percent ecological boat in the world.

“He does not use a drop of oil to move and has sunlight, water and wind as his main energy sources,” says Simeoni, a passionate sail who, after amassing a considerable fortune in the field of telecommunications, he created his own foundation, which he called Race for Water or Carrera por el agua in Spanish, hence the name of his ship.

“The foundation has three tasks,” says Simeoni, “support scientific research on plastic pollution at sea, alert politicians and the public about the problem and promote sustainable solutions.”

first boat powered by solar energy

This ship, which moves silently by the sea, is part of the solution.

2010 was built for the ‘Planet Solar’ project and showed the world that it was possible for a boat to get its energy from sunlight.

“The ship is covered by 512 square meters of solar panels,” says Annabell Boudinot, standing on these silicon blocks that extend over the deck of the Odyssey R4W as if they were lego blocks. “The electricity generated by sunlight is stored in the ship’s batteries, and allows it to have energy for 36 hours of navigation, but the panels are not the only source of energy,” Boudinot adds.

In addition to the sun, the R4W moves with water and wind.

“Seawater is pumped, desalinated and stored on board, then, through a process of hydrolysis, we separate the hydrogen and contain it in tanks that we will convert into electricity and finally make the propellers move. Navigation, “explains Boudinot.

In addition, the wind? Instead of a traditional sail, the boat uses a kite that opens in the sky like a paraglider and pulls the boat.

In this way, and helped by the forces of nature, the ship went around the world in 2015. It was the first expedition led by Simeoni, and had the purpose of knowing first hand what was the real situation of the pollution of plastics in the oceans.

The sailor Camille Rollin shows the findings of that exploration. They seem innocuous pebbles of colors that could be confused with fractions of seashells, a deception for the eyes; however, they are remains of plastic that the sea has degraded.

“These micro particles have the appearance of sea sand but it’s not sand, it’s plastic,” says Rollin. Plastic that floats adrift and that fish eat. Fish that we eat.

“It will be impossible to clean the oceans but there is good news, we can stop this waste from the land,” says Simeoni as a Superman of the seas.

Moreover, the Odyssey R4W has brought this solution to our land.

This will be the second time that the ship will go around the world. The journey will take five years. The crew, under the command of Captain Jean-Marc Normant, is very clear about the importance of the mission.

“Sailing is a discovery, for me it is very important to sensitize people about why they should not throw garbage in the sea,” says sailor Anne Le Chantoux.

Lima has been the seventh city in which the boat has anchored after crossing the Atlantic and stopping in Bermuda, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe where they crossed with the cyclone Irma that, fortunately, did not cause any damage to the ship.

According to his schedule, the R4W will stay two months in the capital. It will open its doors to schoolchildren, who will be able to visit the ship, and will meet with local recyclers whom Race For Water recognizes as allies to stop from land that our plastic trash reaches the sea.

“It takes 400 to 1,000 years for plastic to disappear,” says Camille Rollin, “however, using a technology we call pyrolization, we can turn it into gas or electricity.”

With this method, the foundation of Simeoni aims to reproduce what nature does every day: reuse waste and transform it into useful energy.

Pyrolyzing machines are already used in some Nordic countries and are recognized for their environmental benefits.

They are like ovens that receive between 5 and 12 tons of plastic that are incinerated at 800 degrees Celsius in an airtight manner, without releasing any polluting gas into the environment. In addition, by a thermo-chemical reaction gas is produced, which will be purified and used as fuel.

“The sale of this energy will allow us to pay the collectors of the street, which will encourage them to collect the plastic and thus will not reach the sea,” says Marco Simeoni, who has set himself the goal of convincing governments so that future these ovens reach all the coasts.

The crew of the R4W still has four years of navigation. They are as if apostles sent to remind us how harmful we can be to nature but that we can redeem ourselves.


Source: La Republica