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New green energy sailboat Manta aims to clean up ocean

The 185-foot sailboat, the Manta, collects and recycles marine waste and is powered by renewable energy. 

Manta, named for the retractable wings it uses to hold solar panels, is an environmental showstopper.

Taking in three tons of waste an hour, 10,000 in a year, it is the first sea-cleaning ship capable of collecting plastic waste on an industrial scale.

The ship was masterminded by record-holding sailor Yvan Bourgon, who set up the NGO responsible for its design, SeaCleaners, in 2016.

Meet 'Manta,' The Superyacht That Literally Devours Ocean Garbage – Robb Report

In 2015, Bourgon had to drop out of the Transat Jacques Vabre yacht races after his boat was struck by plastic debris.

‘I’ve missed out on records and broken my boat 12 times hitting ocean debris’, he explains.

Over his 20 years of sailing, which includes being the first person to sail solo from Alaska to Greenland, Bourbon has noticed a sharp rise in the amount of marine waste in our oceans.

His NGO comprises over 58 engineers and researchers and 17 external partners, all employed to design the Manta.

The vessel is a feat of eco-engineering: two wind turbines, 500m2 of solar panels, and a plastic-eating span of 151 feet.

The waste is then sorted by a 22-man crew, who will send metal and glass to onshore recycling units and return the organic matter to the sea. The collected plastic waste is fed into the Waste-to-Electricity Conversion Unit which then turns the synthetic gas into electricity, providing power for the captain and crew.

Although the Manta was a result of Bourgon’s sea-based expeditions, its intended destination is actually mostly coastal areas and estuaries of rivers.

Bourgon explains, ‘the 20 largest rivers in southeast Asia account for 60% of ocean plastic’, and so the Manta will be concentrated in rivers such as the Yangtze and Ganges.

The Manta is ground-breaking for environmentalists and will be able to transform the way in which marine pollution is tackled.

Currently there are approximately 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in our oceans, and the Manta promises a large-scale solution.

Due to the vast amount of waste, individual efforts will not be enough and we must look for large-scale, cooperative efforts. Luckily, Bourgon shares this vision.

‘I’m not in competition with other boat builders to be the only one with a Manta.’

‘Our hope is that hundreds of Mantas will be built around the world to help with the great ocean clean-up.’

The use of renewable energy sources is also exciting; powering such a large vessel on wind and solar opens up huge possibilities for the future of transport and technology.

The boat is set to make its first trip in 2025, and we hope to see a whole ocean of Mantas in the near future.