Plastic to be tackled using machine built for oil spills.

Plastic to be tackled using machine built for oil spills.



ORCA uses vortex technology to suck plastics out of the sea with little likelihood of jamming.

A virtually clog-proof marine clean-up machine originally developed to deal with oil spills is being touted as the answer to dealing with the growing menace of plastic in the seas.

The Oil Response Cleaning Apparatus (Orca) uses vortex technology to suck debris directly into a receiving tank, such as the hold of a ship, unlike traditional skimmers where machinery can get jammed.

“Apart from oil, the Orca can handle floating plastic, invasive algae and other debris,” said Riaz Khan, who developed the machine after the Exxon Valdezspill but before he joined his previous employer, DVB Bank.

Khan is looking for investors or partners to build more Orca units designed to meet the growing problem of plastic debris entering the oceans. It is estimated that five million to 13 million tonnes flow into the seas each year endangering marine life and seabirds, and entering the human food chain.

Khan says the cost of making the machines could be cut by building them in greater numbers with a n engineering partner who is involved in the environment. (apologies to Paul Berrill). He adds that other marine plastic-clearing systems under development do not have the Orca’s ability to lift debris out of the water.

The Orca previously has been certified by ABS and Lloyd’s Register, and used by the Singapore Oil Spill Response Centre in the 28,000-ton spill by the tanker Evoikos in 1997.

Singapore oil spill services manager Chris Richards said at the time that other skimmers failed to work after the fuel oil clogged their pumps.

“The only unit that worked and continued working successfully was our Orca inductor unit — with its very large suction hose diameter and few moving parts, it was capable of lifting the ‘oil’ from the surface,” Richards said.

Each self-contained Orca, each with its own hydraulic power pack, can lift a 28-kilogramme bag of sludge 30 metres vertically in four seconds and is able to retrieve 500 to 1,600 barrels of oil per hour depending on the type and weather conditions.

Khan has more than 40 years of experience in shipping, including commercial operations of a fleet of dry bulk vessels, crude and products tankers. He joined DVB in 2001 to set up its research department, which he headed up until 2013 when he formed his own maritime investment consultancy, Tavlon Commercial Enterprise.

June 21st, 2017 19:03 GMT

by Paul Berrill