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MAELSTROM: Smart technology for marine litter sustainable removal and management

RECONMATIC is not only inspired by projects active in the construction industry but also by projects focused on circularity in any sector. MAELSTROM project is one of them! Today we are going to put this very interesting project on stage and learn more about its work and the synergy with RECONMATIC.  The project is funded by Horizon Europe Programme under the call H2020-FNR-2020: Food and Natural Resources and brings together 14 partners including research centres, recycling companies, NGOs, marine scientists and robotic experts from 8 European countries. Let’s find out more about its mission and our collaboration.

A few words about the project

MAELSTROM targets the global issue of Marine Litter and Marine Plastics. It designs, manufactures and integrates scalable, replicable and automated technologies co-powered with renewable energy and second-generation fuel, to identify, remove, sort and transform all types of collected marine litter into valuable raw materials.


The project develops many technologies and science related to marine litter removal and its impact: form the identification of hotspots, biological evaluation, removal technologies, sorting technology and recycling solutions. Among them two main technologies are developed to remove Marine Litter:  one focuses on the surface and water column of rivers (The Great Bubble Barrier) and the other one focuses on the seabed of lagoons and seas  [ ]

Seabed cleaning platform, developed by Tecnalia, CNRS LIRMM and ST Venezia

The impact of these removal technologies is evaluated with pre and post-biological assessments as well as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). The recovered litter is usually of low value and difficult to recycle, so various Proof of Concept of recyclability of this marine litter is also conducted (pyrolysis, mechanical compression and generation of new composites). To detect, classify and separate and recycle the most useful thermoplastics from the marine litter, an AI-driven robotic sorting solution is developed.

How MAELSTROM and RECONMATIC collaborate to contribute to circular economy?

The AI-driven robotic sorting solution is co-developed in MAELSTROM and RECONMATIC projects. Both projects support the amortization of the investment and RECONMATIC will benefit from the first software developments performed in MAELSTROM for the Perception, Detection and Classification and Robotic picking of waste items.

The current status of this robotic sorting solution

In terms of AI, MAELSTROM will allow to detect, classify and sort different types of plastics and thermoplastics, using conventional Machine Learning strategies. On the other hand, RECONMATIC will allow to detect, classify and sort different types of Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) material, implementing more advanced Deep Learning strategies and increasing the range of materials that can be detected, classified and sorted.

In particular, RECONMATIC will focus on removing contaminants from the CDW flow such as gypsum. Plastics are also a contaminant in CDW, so the detection capacities of MAELSTROM will be exploited in RECONMATIC. However, while the Marine Litter can be sorted using a vacuum cup on the robot, the RCD will require a more advanced gripper.

All technologies developed in both projects are going to facilitate sorting processes in their sector, to improve the recycling and reuse of materials in order to contribute to the aim of a circular economy and the net-zero goal.

Follow @RECONMATIC on LinkedIn and X (Ex Twitter) to keep up to date with our activities and visit our dedicated webpage to learn more about synergies with other projects.

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