A boat comprised of 100% trash set sail on Wednesday, June 8 in Taiwan. Coinciding with World Oceans Day, the vessel dubbed the Polli-Boat is primarily made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), currently the most widely used form of plastic. Polli-Boat hopes to bring awareness to the state of distress for the world’s marine life along with reminding people about the importance of recycling and alternative energy options.
Polli-Boat is the creation of Taipei-based Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development Ltd., a leader in eco-friendly design. Miniwiz works to provide consumers with affordable, green technology that is both stylish and accessible. According to the company’s website a green product should be compact, stylish, ingenious and functional. Currently, their most well known product is the HYmini, a “handheld universal device that harnesses renewable wind power / solar power and conventional wall plug power to recharge almost all your 5V digital gadgets.” However, Miniwiz is not just a technology based company and Polli-Boat is not their first foray into structural design. The company also designed the centerpiece for the Taipei International Flora Expo, Eco Ark Pavilion. The Pavilion was built of recycled plastic bottles and weighs approximately 50% less than standard buildings, yet has enough strength to withstand fires and other natural disasters.
The prototype vessel stretches 23 feet in length with the main flotation system a network of 804 Polli-Bricks (hence the boat’s name). Polli-Bricks’ large air pockets provide substantial flotation for the main hull and outer tubes, while the hexagonal shape allow bricks to lock together forming a tight bond that can withstand waves.
Innovative design of the trimaran (meaning the boat has three hulls) is not limited to recycled PET. Polli-Boat replaces traditional top decking material, Fiber-Reinforce Plastic (FRP), with eco-friendly wood-plastic composite known as WPC. Unlike FRP, which is non-recyclable and release toxins during manufacturing, WPC uses entirely recycled materials such as sawdust and recycled plastic. The composite material is moisture resistant, providing good traction for the boat’s deck. WPC is also very durable, will not rot, will not suffer UV damage and requires no staining, painting or pressure treatments.
A sailboat is not complete without a sail. Polli-Boat keeps to the recycling premise by choosing old advertising banners. Founder and Managing Director of Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development Ltd., Arthur Huang said the boat is propelled only by renewable resources such as wind power and solar power. But, wind cannot always be guaranteed. For those times the trimaran relies on six modules of soft solar panels with each panel having the capacity to generate 72 watts to the boat’s electric motor.
Polli-Boat’s design based on the concept of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” makes the vessel the first trimaran of its kind. The finished prototype was entered into a National Geographic in Taiwan World Oceans Day event. Over 200 boats, all made of recycled materials, entered the competition with only ten chosen. Other entry designs focused on causes such as endangered animals, protecting the wetlands and the increasing rise in water levels.
World Oceans Day events are over, but Polli-Boat’s use is far from finished. The boat will sail through the waters of Taiwan providing continued educational purposes.
Photo Credit: enfield-ct.gov/content/21816/21868.aspx