Project team: Tia LaMore, Reem Makkawi
Course: Bioinspired Design, spring 2018
Flipper Filter is a bioinspired concept for an economically and environmentally friendly device designed to help clean the oceans of microplastics and protect marine fauna. As a hydrodynamic device that moves through the ocean, it filters out microplastics that endanger marine life (and potentially humans as well). Flipper Filter’s structural ridges are based on the anatomy of leatherback sea turtles; this design allows for more efficient maneuverability in the water, as its dorsal longitudinal ridges are misaligned from streamlines to generate streamwise vertices, increasing hydrodynamic performance in the open ocean.
Flipper Filter also takes inspiration from filter-feeding baleen whales. Just as a baleen whale takes in ocean water and uses its tongue to capture food and create a high-pressure system to release water, Flipper Filter will receive ocean water containing microplastics and as the water flows both to the posterior end and laterally to the microplastic filters, it will trap the polluting microplastics. When water containing microplastics flows to the back of the device — where a microplastic filter made of plankton netting catches the tiny pollutants — pressure begins to build up. As pressure builds, the flow is directed in the lateral direction and out of the bottom openings (also covered with plankton netting), trapping the microplastics within the device.
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