Restoring Earth’s Clean Ocean- Azure Trash Skimmer & Floating Vacuum Cleaner

by Shu-Yu Liu

It is easy to produce 1 kg of garbage, but the cost of cleaning such amount is extremely high. There are people who devote themselves, without asking for anything in return, in environmental protection and developing automatic cleaning machine for our ocean, hoping to restore it to its beauty.

Azure Trash Skimmer for cean cleanup

A group of passionate young people in Taiwan formed the Azure Alliance, focusing on developing the Trash Skimmer, pretty much like a vacuum cleaner, except that it operates on water.

Trash Skimmer patrolling in calm water areas

In the beginning, the team simulated the marine environment using a storage box, followed by a prototype built using Lego bricks. After several tryouts in waters with garbage, coupled with corrections, here we have the current generation skimmer. Its double-hull design is equipped with a conveyor belt in the middle that rotates under water surface to collect debris and gather them into a basket.

The skimmer is designed to clean up surface trash in harbors non-stop, and the basket will be collected for recycling by human operators when it is full. It features small size and large capacity, allowing it to reach every corner of a harbor. The skimmer can remove 70 kg of marine debris in a single day and can be remotely controlled. In the future, it is expected that the collected garbage will be used to analyze the total amount of garbage, accumulation rate, and common categories in a certain area. There can be a database as a reference for authoritative agencies to allocate budgets needed and revise regulations for management and maintenance of that area.

Azure Trash Skimmer

Floating Vacuum Cleaner- screening down to 1-cm size garbage

The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch organization established by Boyan Slat, a young scientist, collects marine debris with success using a floating cleaner. The giant device was launched in September 2018, and it is expected to remove 50% of garbage in the Pacific region within 5 years, should everything go well, according to Slat’s team.

The device is a floating barrier consisting of tubes that are 600-meter long and 3-meter deep in total that can capture and retain plastic debris floating on the water surface. There is a “parachute anchor” to slow down the device movement, with sensors and transmitters to send back data on a regular basis through satellites. With the information collected, fishing boats with towing nets can head out to retrieve the collected debris as large as tires and as small as 1-cm plastic pieces.


It is important that humans clean up marine debris using technology and raise people’s awareness of environmental protection through education. In this way, it is expected that the ocean ecosystem can be restored and even made better.



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