Japan-based Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, (MOL) and team Eco Trinity led by Novelgen have announced the successful production of carbon products-a potential source of energy comparable to wood pellets-from microplastics and microalgae collected by a microplastic collection device installed on a MOL-operated vessel.
The success of this demonstration shows the potential use of microplastics as an energy resource and could encourage the collection of microplastics from the ocean to increase production of carbon materials and in turn expand the energy supply.
Usually microplastics is seawater have been captured by the filter within the ballast water treatment system and discharged overboard. In order to prevent discharge of the microplastics when back flushing the ballast filter, a collection device has been installed in the return line. The performance of the devise has been confirmed as per designed through demonstration tests.
Eco Trinity works toward practical application of systems that generate secure, safe energy, water, and food resources with decentralised autonomous waste treatment devices and microplastic removal technology at the core.
When discharged ashore, the microplastics collected and microalgae are mixed and heated to 300°C to decompose the organic matter and produce carbon products. When the carbon product gained through this demonstration test was subjected to calorific value analysis, the results showed a calorific value of 17.1MJ/kg (1 megajoule (MJ) is about 239 kilo calories), the same level as wood pellets.
The installation and testing of the microplastic device and participation in projects is part of MOL’s sustainability programme.