Weekly 'Pulse' Issue 54

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SOS - Save Our Seas

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It’s estimated that over 8 million tons of discarded plastic end up in the world’s ocean each year, damaging fragile ecosystems and collecting into garbage islands in the middle of the ocean.

The “SeaBin” is just about as simple as it sounds, but its potential impact in cleaning up our oceans is not to be underestimated. It is essentially a large bin with a fibre net and a pump, which pumps water through and captures debris as small as 2mm. With the ability to capture up to 1.5kg of debris per day and a 12kg total capacity – it’s estimated that it can remove the equivalent of 20,000 plastic bottles or 83,000 bags per year.

The device has just been deployed commercially for the first time in Portsmouth, England. Its current configuration is best suited for calmer waters such as jetties and peers, where it can capture the rubbish discarded from humans.

See how it works here.

How else can we develop ambient or autonomous systems that can offset the stress we are placing on the environment? 


Something From Nothing

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Human’s aren’t just damaging the ocean with what we put in, but also with what we take out. Overfishing is rife around the world, as once seemingly unlimited supplies of fish dwindle under the pressures of modern consumption. However, human consumption isn’t the only driver for the overfishing our seas – surprisingly enough, an ever-increasing amount of catch is being processed and fed back to fish.

The aquaculture industry has doubled in size in the last 20 years, and as a result, so too has their demand for fish as food. Recognising that the ocean just can’t keep up, NovoNutrients have developed a process that feeds carbon dioxide to special microbes, which feed on it and grow into proteins that are included in the food. They have also developed similar microbes that deliver particular nutrients such as vitamins and probiotics.

The plan is to one day scale the solution into feed for livestock and pet food, and eventually one day for humans.

Learn more about the future fish food here.

In what other ways can we reimagine food ecosystems that we've generally seen a "whole" networks and redesign them with a smarter sum of individual parts? 


Octo-Camo

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Wrapping up our aquatic theme with something a little more far fetched, inspired by one of the most impressive animals of the sea. Certain cephalopods (e.g octopus and cuttlefish) are not only capable of changing their colour to camouflage in their surroundings, but can also change their physical texture by protruding or retracting tiny muscles all over their body.

The US Army has been mimicking this principle in their attempt to develop 3D shapeshifting suits for soldiers, that can be programmed to match the texture of their environment. Essentially the system works like a series of pixels, that can each be pneumatically pumped to a certain height in order to match their surroundings.

See how it works here.

What other 'futuristic' inspiration can we draw from natural systems that have existed for millennia?