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Floating Grind Sieve (FGS)

Items that could have potentially been trash themselves, can be used to clean out floating trash from lakes, oceans and other water bodies.

Photo of Aakar Mehra

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"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

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. 

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Flashings
  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • EVA Foam Components
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

The FGS will mainly be made out of the Apparel and Footwear Textile grind material fused together into a large mesh. The size of the sieve will depend on what kind of area is being cleaned. The inner floating material will consist of the Nike Grind Rubber and Foam pieces. The amount of floating material will also depend on how heavy the garbage collection would be. The more the amount of float material, easier for the FGS to float by itself and be pulled out with less effort. The "Fluff" will be added depending on the amount of oil spill and size of the sieve.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

The second image is a mere depiction of how a larger boat can be used to pull a larger sieve in the ocean. (please note that this image was taken by me and the garbage was added using photo editing).

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

- NGOs that are trying to work on cleaning the oceans, rivers and lakes. (eg. - Industrial oil transportation companies. - Individuals or city municipal corporations for lake or other water body cleaning.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

The FGS can be owned by a municipality or some Non Profit that can rent the equipment and boat out to other NGOs who are working on certain areas. There can be some small easy to assemble systems that people can put on their own boats to clean smaller areas around their residential areas. There is also a potential of selling the product to the industrial oil tanker companies. To show the working, I want to build a small prototype with some Nike Grind material and use it to clean up the small pond right next to my house. Potential obstacles: 1. The eventual outcome of the FGS might be as a fuel source which is not the most effective use. 2. Washing or cleaning the FGS would require a process to make sure we don't throw the waste back into the oceans. 3. Keeping circularity in the use of these material with replacing the mesh textile to make sure that we keep the quality good.

How is your idea innovative?

The FGS is an innovative concept, keeping in mind the challenges faced by the society in regards to water pollution and garbage disposal. The design is based on the concept of buoyancy for material like rubber and foam. Most designs that are made for the cleaning process are not scalable or easy to use. This idea will allow not only smaller organizations but larger oil companies to use the same product in various modes. The business model is circular in nature in terms of reuse and refurbish.

What inspired this idea?

The idea was inspired by the amazing project The FGS has a similar concept of dragging the garbage out of the ocean but it can easily be scaled, is a faster process, and has the community's needs at its core.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

I am working individually and looking to get feedback from the community. By profession I am a Mechanical Engineer, have had experience in industries in India and the US. I am design thinker and follower of human centered approach.

In what city are you located?

Ann Arbor

In what country are you located?

United States

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

As shown in the image, this idea will go to a lot places if it becomes the Top Idea. Getting the ability to prototype with real Grind material, in some real environment is something that will allow this concept to grow and come to life. It is important to adapt the design based on the testing and prototyping that is done, so that it is user friendly.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Aakar Mehra ,

A reminder that the ideas phase of this Challenge closes in less than one hour, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Please have your submission updated by this deadline with content to all proposal questions complete.

Excited to have you in the Challenge!

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