Today in History – July 27, 2010 – Plastic bottle catamaran named “Plastiki” completes epic pacific crossing. A crew of experts, scientists, and creatives, led by visionary explorer David de Rothschild, sailed over 12,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney in a boat made out of plastic bottles and recycled waste products. The name “Plastiki” was inspired by Thor Heyerdal’s 1947 epic expedition the Kontiki.
The purpose of this bold adventure was to draw attention to our carbon footprint with a focus on those ubiquitous PEP water bottles and the Pacific Garbage Patch. The catamaran design was a pioneering example of sustainable design.
The team aims to captivate and inspire, as well as to motivate tomorrow’s environmental thinkers and doers to take positive action for the planet and be smart with waste. Ultimately, they hope to inspire people to rethink waste as a valuable resource. One person’s waste could be another person’s treasure.”
When teaching a course for engineering faculty in India, I used the problems of PET water bottles as the week-long class project. Usually made of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), ~25g per bottle, these plastics use:
- 6.45 kg oil/ kg PET
- 294.2 kg water/ kg PET
- 3.723 kg Green House Gases/ kg PET
- and that’s not even including transportation!
You are welcome to use my slides. This problem is ubiquitous, and the solutions will be geographically and culturally depend. Makes a great project for human-centered sustainable design. Also allows for some creative designs that address the triple bottom line of planet, people and profit. My favorite case study is the formation and expansion of the TerraCycle company.
For more information, see the Engineering Pathway’s resources on Plastiki and water bottles. Or take a virtual tour of the Plastiki and learn how this boat survived the mighty ocean. Click on “hot spots” for more details on the catamaran design. For related educational resources, visit the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Education and Ocean Engineering Education disciplinary communities.
Also on this date on July 27, 1866, the First transatlantic cable was completed.