Sargassum is a natural, even essential, part of the Caribbean's ecosystems but these recent blooms are having a devastating impact on the region, both ecologically and economically. Many tourist areas and islands were inundated this year. It piles up on beaches, sometimes many feet thick covering large area of shore waters and begins to decay. In the process of decay, the hydrogen sulphide that gets released smells like rotting eggs and many resorts had to close their doors. Hydrogen sulphide is dangerous to humans in large quantities, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea and even asthma has been reported in some local communities. Since the species are Sargassum natans and Sargassum fluitans float they block sunlight creating dead zones beneath them because plants below need sunlight to survive. The cleanup and removal of sargassum is an expensive task because they come in large quantities at a fast rate which makes the traditional and modern clean up method very high cost dependent.
This project is about building an automation cleanup mechanism that can clean and collect the piled up Sargassum in both shore land and water. This is done by installing a train track in the shore where the Sargassum piles up either in the water or the land and install an automation vehicle which cleans up on some period of time. The automation vehicle has 5 major parts which are train wheels, blade, lift cylinders, electric motor and holding tank. The electric motor powers the train wheels and the lift cylinders to transport the vehicle on the train track and store the collected Sargsssum in to the holding tank respectively. The motor will be powered by either a battery or solar panels. The blade is in charge of collecting the piled up Sargsssum in the land or the shore water and since the blade surfaces has small holes; water will not be cumulated with the collected Sargassum in the shore water. The blade also has a weight sensor to activate the lift cylinder to store the collected Sargassum in to the collection tank when the Sargssum accumulates in the blade. Since the main problem of the piled up Sargassum in shore of Caribbean is the large volume, this automation clean up mechanism will be very critical on Sargassum collection without human interaction. The collected Sargassum in the holding tank will be easy for transportation to sites where the Sargassum is processed for further use to crate circular economy.
This design needs to overcome is installation of the train tracks. It is easy to install the train track for Sargassum which piles up in shore land but the main challenge will be the piled up Sargassum will also pile up on the train track blocking the movement of the automation vehicle. This can be managed by installing a track cleaning stracture ahead of the front wheels.
For more information please visit https://hackaday.io/project/177583-caribbeans-sargassum-problem-40