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Don’t let the name fool you. The Oil Response Cleanup Apparatus (ORCA) can also be used for cleaning up plastics.

The portable device uses vortex technology to suck plastic debris out of the sea and directly into a receiving tank, such as the hold of a ship.

“ORCA can handle floating plastic, invasive algae and other debris,” said Riaz Khan, who developed the machine.

Orca has been certified by ABS and Lloyd’s Register, and was used by the Singapore Oil Spill Response Centre in the 28,000-ton spill by the tanker Evoikos in 1997.

Singapore oil spill services manager Chris Richards said at the time that other skimmers failed to work after the fuel oil clogged their pumps.

“The only unit that worked and continued working successfully was our Orca inductor unit — with its very large suction hose diameter and few moving parts, it was capable of lifting the ‘oil’ from the surface,” Richards said.

Khan says these same advantages are also true for plastic cleanup applications.

Khan says that each self-contained ORCA, each with its own hydraulic power pack, can lift a 28-kg bag of sludge 30 meters vertically in four seconds and is able to retrieve 500 to 1,600 barrels of oil per hour depending on the type and weather conditions. For more on this technology, visit orcaclean.com.

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