"Water and air are the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans." - Jacques Cousteau
About 70% of earth's surface is covered with water, and we as humans, are not doing enough to keep our environment clean. In the past decades, we have polluted our water bodies across the globe with all kinds of trash which is destroying life underwater and contaminating our water sources. Plastic bags, bottles, containers, tires, cans, solid waste etc. are just a few items,in the list of garbage that is either thrown into water streams or gets drained by storms. Oil spills are another source of water pollution which is even harder to clean up and reuse.
"There is no such thing as "away". When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere." - Annie Leonard
There are some individuals and companies that are now trying to find ways to clean the trash and oil spills, out of the water bodies. A lot of these process are slow and take a lot of energy and time to clean larger areas of water. It is important to design a method that would consume low amount of non-renewable energy, can be easily done by any individual in any size of a water body and most importantly is based on circular design so that it does not become trash on its own after its life. Based on these constraints, the 'Floating Grind Sieve' (FGS), is a concept designed to solve the water trash and oil spill problems at a low cost with potential of scalability and re-usability.
Technical product design and application:
Due to the density of rubber (6.87 lbs. per cubic ft.) and foam (1.8 lbs. per cubic ft.) being lower than that of water (62.42 lbs. per cubic ft.), most types of rubber will float in water. Leveraging the Archimedes principle of buoyancy, we can create a mesh or a sieve like structure with the Nike Grind Apparel and Footwear Textile filled with Nike Grind Rubber and Foam particles, that would float together as a unit (please see images attached). The apparel material will allow water to seep through but will collect most of the small and large pieces of trash with it. The rubber material filled inside will allow this sieve structure to float easily without having to worry about the textile material to sink. It will also support the weight of the trash that will get collected on top of the FGS. The FGS will have to be pulled with help of a small boat or a larger boat based on the area of the sieve.
Another potentially important application for the FGS will be to collect the oil floating in oceans and rivers when there is large amount of spill. In such a situation, the FGS will be filled with "Fluff" material instead of the rubber and foam. The texture and absorption capabilities of this soft material will allow it to soak the oil from the top layer of water and easily pulled out to be used as potential fuel in various industrial processes. In this case, chances are that the FGS will need to be replaced fairly quickly. FGS will reduce the amount of oil wastage in spills and fill in as an energy resource.
Circular economy and sustainability:
The FGS materials being in their raw form (rubber, foam grind or textile) can be easily reused in the same process over and over again. It is easy to use the FGS in one area to strain the trash out and wash out remaining dirt from the textile, rubber or foam, in an orderly manner so that it is not drained in to the ocean again. The scalability of this product will create a cycle of use in larger ocean type environment to then be used in smaller lakes, river or pond type bodies. Around the end of its life, the FGS will be used to clean up oil spills in oceans and used as a fuel to keep homeless people warm in the winter or in industries that were going to use that oil.
Nike's aim to create an impact on the environment:
Using materials that once had the potential to be trash and end up in a landfill, to clean up garbage from various water bodies is what makes this idea very impactful for the environment. Straining the garbage from the water surface will allow life to grow underwater. Removing oil spills from the oceans is one of the biggest crisis that we face in the industrial oil transportation. This concept will provide a method to salvage the spilled oil. Nike can also build upon its 'Environment Friendly' image by starting the cleaning process in specific locations by themselves.
Improving people's lives and reducing waste:
Having clean water bodies will lead to lower energy used in water purification from rivers and lakes. This will allow us to help preserve the aquatic life and remove the garbage that can then be up-cycled in multiple different ways (for example http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-news/upcycled-ocean-plastic).
Partnering with the right municipalities and non profit organizations will allow for creating opportunities for the young generation of fishermen to help provide for their family by not just catching fish but also trash. Creating channels that can provide the right use of the plastic collected from the ocean will help people to expand their businesses.