Aditya Mehrotra is an East Brunswick High School students who is working on developing a simple and inexpensive system to clean ocean pollution.

April 20th, 2010. 9:56 pm. An explosion rocks the BP Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform sending over 3.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. An equivalent amount of water could support the average American family for over 917 years. The oil tangled itself with the ecosystem inflicting horrors upon the life in the gulf. Around the world today, water based ecosystems stare a similar fate but with many different forms of these alien elements. They can take the form of plastic, sediments, elements, chemicals, trash, and more. This is the reality of water pollution in our world today, and we are a project that hopes to change that. Project ORRCA (Oceanic Research Reconnaissance and Cleanup Android) aspires to create an all in one autonomous solution to the problem of water pollution. The system consists of an Unmanned Surface Vessel with an onboard filter system that can separate pollutants from the water. The Project started 6 years ago after the BP oil spill and was recently revealed to the public eye at the World MakerFaire NYC 2016 where it received 3 awards.

       The ORRCA unmanned surface vessel is a working prototype. This is the second prototype and it is completely capable of removing pollutants from the water. It's made of a prototyping material for ease of modification but in the future we plan to use carbon fiber for a sturdier and more advanced form. The carbon fiber form would allow the ORRCA craft to keep operating in multiple types of weather conditions.

       The ORRCA project uses the Unmanned Surface vehicle (pictured). It's unique shape gives it maximum aerodynamic and fluid dynamic efficiency in addition to warding off any curious creatures. The water based life forms mistake the craft for a shark and steer clear, which is beneficial. We don't want to harm any wildlife in the process of cleaning. In the rear of the craft is a battery powered electric engine that can deliver a theoretical 2.5 horsepower. This engine allows ORRCA to handle heavy loads while being environmentally friendly and efficient. In the middle of the craft, is the control compartment. ORRCA is controlled by a very special controller called GeoForce. This controller is different from others because it is more precise and accurate and boasts frequency hopping technology. Frequency hopping technology or FHT reads the radio interference and switches its signal to avoid it automatically. The controller is an all in one solution containing only one module. It's an Ardupilot based controller making it easy to customize. 

        ORRCA uses a unique 2 stage filtration system to separate not only small plastics and sediment based pollutants but oil and chemicals from the water as well. Its special filter is called STREAM which stands for Strategically, Environmentally, Advanced Module. It filters using the specialized STREAM Filter Core which is made of a polycellulose-based material that not only repels water but absorbs oil at the same time. This new material, made by ESP oil absorbents, was taken by the project and redesigned into a filter system with specialized channels that maximize the surface area of filtration and absorption. Water passes through the specially designed channels but oil gets trapped and absorbed. Unfortunately the current system is not reusable but we are looking at a reusable filter system in the future. 

       But perhaps the best part of Project ORRCA is that it is inexpensive. The current system costs only $750 to manufacture as is completely capable of removing pollutants from the water. The most popular systems today are large filtration systems that can cost upwards of $10000 which isn't realistic for developing countries. Project ORRCA aims to bridge the gap between low cost and effective solutions.

       The idea itself is quite simple, we take the ORRCA USV (pictured) and place it into the polluted water body. Next, we open the smartphone app which displays a map of the local area. We draw a rectangle around the polluted area and send this rectangle to ORRCA. The controller inside then plans the most effective route completely on its own, and then autonomously guides the ORRCA craft along it's chosen path. Along the way, ORRCA's passive filtration system removes any pollutants from the water. The craft then returns to shore and the pollutants are removed from the filter by the ground team.

       Projects like Project ORRCA are attempting to solve the water pollution crisis using simple and inexpensive methods. In the future, the project hope to gain sponsors and partners to develop the idea further and to move the project towards implementation. We as humans are the only ones that can solve the water pollution crisis, it's our duty to the planet that breathes life into us every day. To learn more about our project and its goals visit our website or contact us at




Project ORRCA

For a Cleaner. Better World.




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