Innovations That Matter

YUNA buoy | Photo source YUDesign

Anchor buoy filters out microplastics


A design team has developed a mooring buoy that can remove microplastics from the ocean

Spotted: Spanish design group YUDesign has won a national James Dyson award for its design of a mooring buoy, YUNA, that can filter microplastics from the sea.

Microplastics are highly toxic particles that measure less than 5 mm in diameter. Sealife ingest the plastic particles, which causes them harm and enters the food chain. Some estimate that by 2050 there will be a greater mass of plastic in the sea than fish. 

To help solve this problem, YUDesign was inspired by the shape of Ocean sunfish and how they adapt to changing ocean currents. The buoy contains filters and acts passively, collecting particles as its drifts and spins in the current. YUNA contains several filters, to pick up particles of varying sizes. Active charcoal is used to filter the smallest particles.

The buoy is made out of polythene, which does not break down into microplastic particles. Construction of buoy is very simple, using one mould to form the two halves of the external structure. This also keeps production costs low, costing just 20 per cent more than an ordinary buoy.

The team at YUDesign were inspired by seeing the effect of plastic on Mediterranean beaches, saying “protecting the local has been the main incentive for the realisation of this project.” 

At Springwise, we have seen a number of devices that use passive technology to reduce plastic in the oceans. Recent innovations have included a 3-D printed seawall and a filter for microplastics that uses jellyfish mucus.



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