Test Installation of New Microplastic Collection Device That Can Collect Microplastics Continuously While a Vessel is Underway








Protecting the Marine Environment in a Broad Range of Sea Areas by Collecting Microplastics

Tokyo, Japan - July 05, 2022

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.
Miura Co., Ltd.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL; President & CEO: Takeshi Hashimoto; Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo) and Miura Co., Ltd. (Miura; President: Daisuke Miyauchi; Headquarters: Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture) today announced the development of new centrifugal-type microplastic (MP) collection device, which can continuously collect MPs while a vessel is underway, by leveraging their technology and knowledge of an earlier MP collection device (Note 1) they co-developed. The new device was installed on the MOL-operated car carrier EMERALD ACE last month for a demonstration test.

Background and achievements
With the aim of collecting MPs, which are a source of ocean pollution, MOL and Miura have developed a collection device that captures MPs collected and trapped in a filter with a backwashing function, which constitutes the ballast water treatment system, and installed it on a total of five vessels-three bulk carriers and two wood chip carriers.

While these vessels were at unloading ports, the systems treated a total of about 16,000m3 of seawater. The development of this new model was intended to further increase treatment times, area, and capacity.

Characteristics of the new centrifugal-type MP collection device
The addition of a centrifuge allows the device to efficiently separate floating microplastics (MPs) from concentrated seawater with a high density of floating debris, without closed plumbing. This enables it to treat sea water line, which continually draws in seawater, and even treat the full amount of discharge water after passing through the filter with the backwashing function of the ballast water treatment system, which was limited to a part of treatment in the previous device. On EMERALD ACE, MPs can be continuously collected while sailing, by connecting the system to the cooling seawater line, which always draws in seawater. This gives the system an annual seawater treatment capacity about 70 times that of the previous device. As car carriers operate all over the world (lower right figure), the vessel contributes to the conservation of the marine environment by cleaning all sea areas while operating this device.


Image by MOL.  



Future development
Today, demand for data regarding the amount of floating microplastics in seawater is growing among research institutes, as this data can be applied to research on MP movement and measurement of the effects of various approaches to MP reduction. MOL takes into consideration data such as components, amounts, places, and periods of MPs collected with the device for future research. Miura is moving ahead with development of the product, which has a larger treatment capacity, and a full treatment system for ballast discharge water by combining a ballast water treatment system and MP collection device and cooling seawater.

MOL's initiatives on marine environmental conservation
MOL Group specifies social issues to prioritize through its business as "Sustainability Issues" (Note 2). The group contributes to "Conservation for Marine and global environment," which is designated as one of the sustainability issues, by reducing MPs in the seas around the world.

Miura's initiatives on marine environmental conservation
Miura contributes to global marine environmental conservation through the development of its MP collection device, and contributes to the creation of an environment-friendly society and realizing a sustainable society, through its business activities as the best partner for heat, water and the environment.

(Note 1) The term "microplastics" refers to 5mm or smaller micro-size plastic particles resulting from discarded plastic in the ocean that is broken down by ultraviolet rays and wave action.

(Note 2) MOL Group will contribute to realizing a sustainable society by promoting responses to sustainability issues, which are identified as social issues that must be addressed as priorities through its business. We anticipate this initiative to contribute especially to the realization of "Environment -Conservation for Marine and global environment-" and "Innovation -Innovation for development in marine technology-".

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. press release