Excess algae, prepare to meet your maker. A remote-controlled floating drone could cut a swath through algae-clogged water, turning the overgrowth into biofuel.
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The drone concept comes from Swedish industrial design student Fredrik Ausinsch, who envisions a clean way to remove excess algae in the Baltic Sea. Abnormally frequent and large algal blooms there produce toxins that kill marine animals.
As part of his masters project he proposed an algae sea collector that could dramatically improve marine life, the site Tuvie reported.
The design calls for hydrogen fuel cell technology with two electric-driven pumps, one on each side, which would make the vessel quiet, Ausinsch explained on his project page.
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Moving along the water surface, an internal system separates the biomass from the water. The water helps with thrust while the heat emitted from the hydrogen fuel cell tech dries the algae out.
"The concept works similar to a lawn mower so the algae shouldn't drift behind the machine," he wrote. "It's operated from an external cockpit located in a service boat nearby." Adjustable hydrodynamic wings would allow for collection down to 1.5 meters.
No stranger to sleek machines, Ausinsch designed a conceptual autonomous timber harvesting hovercraft last year that could target trees without damaging the forest floor.
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His passion for vehicles started early: He recounted designing a two-seat pedal car as a child that his father helped him build out of wood.
Ausinsch's Algae Sea Harvester renderings are gorgeous, and I love that he's thinking about creative ways to deal with a deadly algae problem. After all, the stuff grows fast without fresh water.
But algae biofuel production still faces tall hurdles, including how to scale it up affordably and efficiently.
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Fortunately the design is flexible enough so that the collected and dried algae could be used for other things besides fuel, like fertilizer, dyes, healthcare products or cosmetics.
All of those sound better than poisoned fish. Let's build a prototype drone and turn this particular "eww!" into a "woo!"