The waste lift: the new ally of divers to preserve the beauty of the oceans
12 April 2023
For years, divers have been using lifting parachutes to bring heavy one-piece loads to the surface. But how to bring up several bags full of underwater waste at the same time and save yourself the trouble of going back and forth between the bottom and the surface? Manta Innovation has found THE solution.
The waste lift, the ideal companion for underwater clean-ups
Have you ever heard of the Belubag, our collection bag for submerged waste? Here is its companion for big cleaning campaigns: the waste lift! Designed for experienced divers (scuba or freedivers) and developed with them, the waste lift allows to bring several bags of underwater waste to the surface in one go, in complete autonomy and without direct assistance.
“Divers are all passionate about the oceans. They devote time, energy and resources to their passion. At MANTA INNOVATION, we simply asked ourselves how we could mobilize this pool of goodwill to strengthen the levers of action against plastic pollution, this scourge that also disfigures our seabed. This is how we came up with the idea of developing collection solutions accessible to the greatest number of people, such as the Belubag and the waste lift.”
Functioning like traditional underwater lifting devices, the waste lift was developed in partnership with the French Federation of Underwater Studies and Sports (FFESSM), the Underwater Cleaners (NSA), an association from Arcachon specialized in underwater waste collection, and Oxymax, a metallurgy company based in Finistère, with the financial support of the Brittany region.
How do you go from concept to realization?
The process of realizing an engineering project always requires several months (or even several years!) of work. The steps are immutable: identification of needs, research, studies, design, manufacture of one or more prototypes, tests in different environments (2 times, 3 times, 4 times…), feedback, validation tests, and finally the Grail: mass production! The development of the waste lift was no exception to this rule. We take you behind the scenes of its birth, in the footsteps of Baptiste Jagoury, project manager engineer at Manta Innovation.
Divers solicited to identify needs
In addition to the MANTA and MOBULA floating waste collection solutions, Manta Innovation has decided to tackle the problem of underwater pollution in 2022. The first step was to conduct a qualitative survey to find out the reality on the ground thanks to the feedback from divers who were confronted with the phenomenon. 150 answers were thus dissected and analyzed. The findings are identical: underwater pollution exists and divers are most of the time helpless in front of it. On the one hand, their collection equipment, mainly bags, is not adapted. On the other hand, divers are limited by the number of bags they can carry and bring up. The problem had been identified, and now a solution had to be found.
At Manta Innovation, Baptiste Jagoury, project manager, took charge of the project. He contacted two experienced divers: Olivier Linardon and Jean-Christophe Scherding, respectively President and Vice-President of NSA. Founded in 2020, this association under the law of 1901 has set itself the objective of carrying out underwater cleaning sessions in the Arcachon region. In other words, it is a diving club exclusively dedicated to waste collection! Very quickly, an appointment is made, and it is love at first sight between the research department and the association: the violins agree, the ideas fly and the projects are born.
When the idea appears…
In parallel to the creation of the Belubag in December 2022, a second project was born: the waste lift. When they dive to collect waste, divers are often confronted with the problem of the load: they can only take with them one or two bags maximum. As a result, if the area is very polluted, they are forced to go back and forth between the bottom and the surface to empty their full bags, thus multiplying the ascents and the tedious, time-consuming and energy-consuming dives.
Why, then, not develop a solution that would make these round trips instead of the divers? Better yet, what if the solution was specially designed to lift a multitude of small loads, such as bags? This is how the waste lift project was born. The concept is simple: it is a frame, with a calculated design, thought to welcome not only bags, but also lifting equipment: air tank and parachute. No more back and forth between the bottom and the surface: the lift takes care of it. The parachute is filled and the whole thing “takes off” with all the bags of waste.
The manufacture of a first prototype is launched. Concerning the material, we choose 316L stainless steel, marine quality, for its resistance to shock and corrosion.
First tests in natural environment and first re-design
Because they have been of great help to the projects since their beginning, the first tests are carried out with NSA’s expert cleaning divers in the Bassin d’Arcachon. The second ones took place in the nearby Magdeleine lake, and the results were conclusive: the lift worked. We decided on a few improvements to be made, notably to reduce the weight of the frame.
The waste lift has been given a facelift: supports have been added to allow floats to be attached to it, which drastically reduces, or even completely offsets, the apparent weight of the lift once submerged.
Second dive pit tests
With design changes comes verification testing, this time in a diving pit. The advantage of a pit is the space, visibility and lack of current: the lifts can be tested without having to worry about external conditions. Dummy waste is created with diving weights.
Results: The addition of floats makes a difference, but is not yet optimal: while it is easier to move the lift to the polluted area, it still weighs too much. On the other hand, corrections in the design of the frame have made it easier to attach the bags, as well as improving its ergonomics: it is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but it is easier to put down, grab and lift. The parachute ascent works perfectly: the trajectory is vertical and predictable.
Two versions confront each other
The problem of weight being always present, it is decided to double the number of floats, and to play on the drillings, the hollows and the materials to push the lightening further. Two new versions of the lift are developed: a version in lightened stainless steel, and a version in aluminum. Once again, new designs, new tests!
Last field tests to decide between the finalists
Gone are the pit and its perfect conditions: for these last tests on the waste lift, it’s happening on the ground, despite the difficult weather! Even in these conditions, the elevators, once brought to the surface, are easily spotted and extracted. The parachutes are then emptied and the full bags are replaced by empty ones. The lift finally comes down as it went up: all alone!
Conclusive tests, final validation!
Following these last tests, the solution is definitively approved. Solidity, mechanical resistance, corrosion resistance, shock resistance, repairability, ease of assembly, and above all price: it is the stainless steel version of the waste lift that is approved.
The mass production of the waste lift can now begin!
With the support of