Plastics challenge – Filtration of microplastics in ship greywater

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Transport Canada is seeking a wastewater treatment system that can capture and extract microplastics in quantifiable amounts from ship’s greywater prior to discharge.

Challenge Sponsor: Transport Canada (TC)

Funding Mechanism: Grant

Opening date: April 15, 2020
Closing date: June 10, 2020, 14:00 Eastern Daylight Time

Prospective applicants should refer to the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures document.

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Challenge

Problem Statement

TC completed a preliminary online scan of current or emerging technologies that capture and extract microplastics from greywater. TC found that capture and extraction technologies are available in land based wastewater treatment plants. However, studies have shown that the effectiveness of these technologies in capturing and extracting microplastics are lacking. A study in the United Kingdom titled Wastewater treatment plants as a source of microplastics in river catchments found that a large quantity of microplastics were still present in treated sewage effluent indicating the treatments systems' ineffectiveness in capturing microplastics. OceanWise, a British Columbia based non-profit organization has studied microplastics in great detail. They have found that even with state-of-the-art water filtration systems that capture upwards of 90% of plastics from municipal sources, the quantity of microplastics from laundry is so large that it remains a major gap for industrialized nations. All municipalities who have published data have found high concentrations of microplastics in their local marine environment (fresh and seawater).

Furthermore, during this preliminary scan TC was unable to determine whether or not these technologies are being used to treat ship's greywater. TC suspects that this is highly unlikely since unlike ship's blackwater, greywater is currently not regulated through the International Maritime Organization under MARPOL Annex IV. Furthermore, in the event that the ship's wastewater systems combine black and grey waters for treatment, the treatment standards under MARPOL Annex IV do not account for the capture and extraction of microplastics and therefore treatment systems installed on ships would not present this function. Microbeads are banned in North America — however most ships are international and many come from countries where microbeads are not illegal. This challenge would position Canada to take an international lead and present global market opportunities for Canadian SMEs on eliminating microplastics.

Desired outcomes and Considerations

Essential (mandatory) Outcomes

The proposed solution must:

  1. Be a viable cost-effective solution for the shipping industry, meaning that installing or retrofitting the system on a ship is not cost prohibitive.
    • The cost to ship owners for installing or retrofitting the system onto the ship should not represent an impediment for adopting the technology.
    • Operational costs for maintaining the system once installed should also be taken into account. For example, the system should be easy to access and designed in such a way that the unloading of the captured microplastic waste does not increase the ship's time spent in port.
  2. Be a technology that is lightweight, meaning that the weight of the system does not impede the ship's performance. The weight of the technology is taken into account as added weight, which affects a ship's fuel consumption.
  3. Be a technology that can be retrofitted onto new or existing greywater treatment systems of vessels;
  4. Have a containment system for collected microplastics;
  5. Propose a technology that is able to measure the amount of microplastics captured and extracted from a ship's greywater;
  6. Be able to capture microplastics.

Additional Outcomes

The proposed solution should:

  1. Apply a process that allows for the reuse as a feedstock in other industrial processes providing a value-added product/market for microplastics;
  2. Be scalable for land based municipal wastewater treatment plants.

Background and Context

This challenge seeks to contribute to the whole-of-government's commitment on addressing plastic waste. Plastic waste has emerged as a global environmental priority and Canada has taken a leadership position to address plastic waste nationally and internationally. Canada spearheaded the development and adoption of the Ocean Plastics Charter which outlines a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to the management of plastics over their lifecycle.

Domestically, the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste developed in partnership with provinces and territories includes action areas for reducing plastic wastes from aquatic activities. Furthermore, on the world stage within the shipping industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has also turned its attention on addressing marine plastic litter from ships. In 2018, the IMO's Maritime Environmental Protect Committee adopted the IMO Action Plan to Address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships. This action plan aims to enhance existing regulations and introduce new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter from ships. Canada contributed in the development of this action plan and is participating in the development of a strategy for its implementation.

At the heart of this initiatives is the recognition that plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our oceans and waterways. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length are called "microplastics." Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including from larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller and smaller pieces.

In addition, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes. Microfibers are also a type of microplastic. They include small fibers that enter the water from washing clothing made of synthetic materials, like polyester or nylon. Microbeads and microfibers can be found in large quantities in ships' greywater that is discharged into the oceans. Numerous studies have shown that marine life readily ingest microplastics and thus introducing them into the food chain as humans consume fish.

Finally, micro particles, if untouched, will degrade to nano-particles which could then start to affect DNA. Current greywater treatment systems that are found on vessels do not filter for microplastics. In fact, because of their small size and density, which is similar to water, microplastics are currently not being filtered through most existing land based wastewater treatment plants. The results of the current challenge presents a co-benefit since the developed ship water treatment system that captures microplastics could also be scalable to land based wastewater treatment plants, thus further reducing the amount of microplastics in our waterways.

Maximum grant value and travel

Multiple grants could result from this Challenge.

Funding of up to $150,000.00 CAD for up to 6 months could be available for any Phase 1 grant resulting from this Challenge.

Estimated number of Phase 1 grants to be awarded: 3

Funding of up to $1,000,000.00 CAD for up to 2 years could be available for any Phase 2 grant resulting from this Challenge. Only eligible businesses that received Phase 1 funding could be considered for Phase 2.

Estimated number of Phase 2 grants to be awarded: 1

This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any grant for the total approximate funding. Final decisions on the number of Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards will be made by Canada on the basis of factors such as evaluation results, departmental priorities and availability of funds.

Travel

No travel is anticipated

Kick-off meeting

Teleconference/videoconference

Progress Review Meeting(s)

Teleconference/videoconference

Final Review Meeting

Teleconference/videoconference

Eligibility

Solution proposals can only be submitted by a small business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • for profit
  • incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially)
  • 499 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employeesFootnote *
  • research and development activities that take place in Canada
  • 50% or more of its annual wages, salaries and fees are currently paid to employees and contractors who spend the majority of their time working in CanadaFootnote *
  • 50% or more of its FTE employees have Canada as their ordinary place of workFootnote *
  • 50% or more of its senior executives (Vice President and above) have Canada as their principal residenceFootnote *

Evaluation Criteria

The applicant must complete the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form with a degree of information sufficient to enable Canada's assessment of the proposal against the criteria and the Evaluation Schema. The information must demonstrate how the proposal meets the criterion.

Part 1: Mandatory Criteria

Proposals must meet all mandatory criteria identified by achieving a "Pass" in order to proceed to Part 2. Proposals that do not meet all mandatory criteria will be deemed non-responsive and given no further consideration.

Mandatory Criteria

(Applicant's proposal must address)

Question 1 a: Scope

Describe the proposed solution and demonstrate how it responds to the challenge. Include in your description the scientific and technological basis upon which the solution is proposed and clearly demonstrate how the solution meets all of the Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes section in the Challenge Notice.

Evaluation Schema (Mandatory - Pass/Fail)

Pass

The Applicant's proposed solution is clearly articulated, within the scope for the challenge and addresses all Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes (if identified) in the Challenge Notice.

Fail

The proposed solution is articulated as out of scope for the challenge.
OR
The proposal does not clearly demonstrate how the proposed solution addresses all Essential Outcomes listed in the challenge.
OR
The proposed solution is poorly described and does not permit concrete analysis.
OR
There is little to no scientific and/or technological evidence that the proposed solution is likely to meet the challenge.

Question 2: Current Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
  • Indicate the current TRL of the proposed solution. (Drop Down Menu of the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form)
  • Describe the research and development activities that have taken place to bring the proposed solution to the stated TRL.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory - Pass/Fail)

Pass: The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution is currently between TRLs 1 and 6 (inclusive), and provided justification by explaining the research and development (R&D) that has taken place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.

Fail: The Applicant has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the current TRL is between 1 to 6 (inclusive) including:

  • There is insufficient/no evidence provided for TRL judgment.
  • The solution involves the development of basic or fundamental research.
  • The solution is demonstrated at TRL 7 or higher.
  • Insufficient/unclear/no justification explaining the R&D that took place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.
  • The explanation simply paraphrases the description of a given TRL level.
Question 3a: Innovation

Demonstrate how the proposed solution meets one or more of the ISC definitions of innovation below:

  • An inventionFootnote *, new technology or new process that is not currently available in the marketplace.
  • Significant modifications to the application of existing technologies/components/processes that are applied in a setting or condition for which current applications are not possible or feasible.
  • An improvement in functionality, cost or performance over an existing technology/process that is considered state-of-the-art or the current industry best practice.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory – Pass/Fail)

Pass:

The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution meets one or more of the ISC definitions of innovation.

Fail:

  • Applicant has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the proposed solution meets any of the ISC definitions of innovation; OR
  • Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution is an incremental improvement, "good engineering", or a technology that would go ahead in the normal course of product development (i.e. the next version or release).
Question 3b: Advance on State of the Art

Describe in detail the competitive advantages and level of advancement over existing technologies. Where appropriate, name existing technologies as well as potential substitutes or competitors.

To demonstrate this, proposals should include the following information:

  • Improvements (minor or major) over existing technologies or substitutes. Use direct comparison.
  • How the proposed innovation will create competitive advantages in existing market niches or market spaces.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory Criteria – Pass/Fail + Points)

0 points/Fail:

  • The Applicant has not demonstrated that the proposed solution advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including available competing solutions; OR
  • The proposed solution improves minimally upon the current state of the art, though not sufficiently enough to create competitive advantages in existing market niches; OR
  • The stated advancements are described in general terms but are not substantiated with specific, measurable evidence.

5 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers one or two minor improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions, that have potential to create competitive advantages in existing market niches.

12 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers three or more minor improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions, that together are likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches; OR
  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers one significant improvement to existing technologies that is likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches

20 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers two or more significant improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions that are likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches and could define new market spaces; OR
  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution can be considered a new benchmark of state of the art that is clearly ahead of competitors and that is likely to define new market spaces

Part 2: Point-Rated Criteria

Proposals must meet the overall minimum pass mark of 50% to be deemed responsive. Proposals that do not achieve the minimum pass mark will be declared non-responsive and given no further consideration.

Point-Rated Criteria

(Applicant's proposal to address)

Question 1b: Scope

Demonstrate the scientific and technological basis of how the proposed solution addresses the Additional Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes section in the Challenge Notice. If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, text entered in this section will not be considered.

If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, Applicants will receive 10 points.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the solution will address any of the Additional Outcomes. 0 points
  2. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address some (<50%) of the Additional Outcomes. 3 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address most (50% or more) of the Additional Outcomes. 6 points
  4. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address all (100%) of the Additional Outcomes. 10 points
Question 4: Phase 1 Science and Technology (S&T) Risks

Describe potential scientific and/or technological risks to the successful development of the proof of feasibility and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has considered potential risks and mitigation strategies and/or information provided contains significant gaps. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has considered some potential risks and associated mitigation strategies but there are minor gaps in risks and/or associated mitigation strategies. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has sufficiently considered the risks and defined associated mitigation strategies. 10 points
Question 5: Phase 1 Project Plan

Demonstrate a feasible Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.

  • Indicate if any milestones and activities will be completed concurrently
  • Indicate the estimated exit TRL at the completion of Phase 1. (Drop Down Menu of the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form)
Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate a feasible project plan for Phase 1 and/or the project plan exceeds the maximum duration indicated in the Challenge Notice. 0 points
  2. Project plan for Phase 1 is conceivably feasible but not clearly demonstrated and/or includes gaps. 10 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates a feasible project plan for Phase 1. 20 points
Question 6: Phase 1 Project Risks

Describe potential project risks to the successful development of the proof of feasibility and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1.

Applicants should address the following risks, as applicable:

  • Human Resources
  • Financial
  • Project Management
  • Intellectual Property
  • Other project-related risks

Note to Applicants: S&T risks should not be included in this section. Question 4 addresses S&T risks.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has considered potential risks and mitigation strategies and/or information provided contains significant gaps. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has considered some potential risks and associated mitigation strategies but there are minor gaps in risks and/or associated mitigation strategies. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has sufficiently considered the risks and defined associated mitigation strategies. 10 points
Question 7: Phase 1 Implementation Team

Demonstrate how the project implementation team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the project plan for Phase 1 by completing the table. A member of the implementation team can have more than one role.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the project team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 0 points
  2. Information is provided but there are minor gaps in required management and/or technological skill sets and/or experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 10 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the project team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 20 points
Question 8: Inclusivity

If your business were to receive funding from Innovative Solutions Canada, describe what actions (e.g., recruitment strategy, internships, co-op placements, etc.) might be taken in Phase 1 to support the participation of under-represented groups (e.g., women, youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, visible minorities) in the research and development of the proposed solution. Each Applicant in their response to this question must focus only on describing relevant programs, policies, or initiatives that it currently has in place or would put in place to support the R&D effort in Phase 1.

Note: Do not provide any personal information of individuals employed by your company or that of your subcontractors in the response.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. No description and/or concrete examples of actions provided that would be taken to encourage greater participation of under-represented groups. 0 points
  2. A description and concrete examples of actions to encourage greater participation of under-represented groups provided.5 points
Question 9: Phase 1 Financial Proposal

Demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient information provided and/or information provided significantly lack credibility. Does not demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan. 0 points
  2. Information is provided but some costs lack credibility and/or are unclear for the Phase 1 project plan. 7.5 points
  3. Information provided contains credible elements to clearly demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan. 15 points
Question 10: Phase 1 Financial Controls, Tracking and Oversight

Describe the financial controls, tracking and oversight that will be used to manage the public funds throughout Phase 1. Applicants should indicate if an individual or firm will be managing the public funds and provide their credentials and/or relevant experience.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate the Applicant's ability to manage public funds in Phase 1. 0 points
  2. Information provided is vague and/or contains gaps. The Applicant has some controls, tracking and/or oversight in place to manage the public funds in Phase 1. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has strong financial controls, tracking and oversight to manage public funds in Phase 1. 10 points
Question 11: Phase 2 Overview

Demonstrate a realistic overview for the prototype development plan if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Responses should include:

  • key tasks
  • estimated cost for materials
  • human resources
  • project risks and mitigation strategies

Note: A more detailed proposal will be requested if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has contemplated a realistic overview for the Phase 2 prototype development. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates a conceivably realistic overview for Phase 2 prototype development, however there are gaps and/or the strategy is vague. 6 points
  3. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has a clear and realistic overview. 12 points
Question 12: Commercialization Approach

Demonstrate a realistic overall commercialization approach/business model that can successfully take the technology/service to market, and how the technology/service will help you develop and sell other products.

Responses should include:

  • Target markets (excluding Government of Canada)
  • Non-ISC funding sources
  • Transition to a commercially-ready product or service
  • Any other indicators of commercial potential and commercial feasibility

Note: A more detailed proposal will be requested if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the proposed solution has commercial potential. 0 points
  2. Some information provided to demonstrate that the proposed solution has commercial potential, however there are gaps in the commercialization approach. 6 points
  3. A realistic commercialization approach is provided that demonstrates that the proposed solution has commercial potential. 12 points
Question 13: Resulting Benefits to Canada

Describe the benefits that could result from the commercialization of the proposed solution. Applicants should consider the potential benefits using the following three categories and provide justification for each claim:

  • Innovation Benefits: Expected contribution towards the enhancement or development of new industrial or technological innovations within your firm. Responses could include: potential spillover benefits, creation of intellectual property, impact on productivity of the new technology, etc.
  • Economic Benefits: Forecasted impact on the growth of Canadian firms, clusters and supply chains, as well as its expected benefits for Canada's workforce. Responses could include: number of jobs created, number of high-paying jobs, investment in Canada's economy, etc.
  • Public Benefits: Expected contribution to the broader public to the degree that the solution is expected to generate social, environmental, health, security or other benefits to Canada. Responses could include: solution-related environmental benefits, solution-related accessibility benefits, and solution-related impact on Indigenous communities.
Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Innovation Benefits

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

  2. Economic Benefits

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

  3. Public Benefits.

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

Questions and answers

All incoming questions regarding this specific challenge should be addressed to solutions@canada.ca.

All enquiries must be submitted in writing no later than ten calendar days before the Challenge Notice closing date. Enquiries received after that time may not be answered.

You can also consult the Frequently asked questions about the Innovative Solutions Canada Program.

glossary is also available.

What size and density distribution of particles is expected to be filtered?

Transport Canada is looking for a size range between 100 nm and 5 mm. The density distribution is highly dependent on the influent. Ideally we are looking for a removal efficiency no less than 98%.

Will the grey water be processed prior to the need to be filtered, or will the greywater be drawn from some sort of a storage tank?

In general, the physical treatment (e.g. clarification, filtration, membrane filtration process) would come prior to chemical treatment process. However, applicants can propose what they feel the most efficient/effective. Note that mixing these two types of contaminated water degrades greywater and makes it unsuitable for secondary use or return it to the water. It is therefore essential to recover the grey water upstream of the mixture with the black water.

There was discussion as to whether the greywater would be combined with blackwater, what will be the input to the filtration system in the challenge?

This decision rests upon the applicant. The applicant could decide to treat the greywater separately or once combined with the black water. However, a cost-benefit and feasibility analysis would be necessary to determine the value of the reconfiguration of vessels with existing black water treatment systems.

What type of processing rate is required or desired? (gph, m^3/hr, tons/hour, etc.)

The estimated grey water generated per day/per person for various marine vessel type is between 246-300 liters/person/day. Therefore, the system should be able to filter this amount per day/per person. This variable therefore depends on passenger capacity of a vessel. The proposed concept would need to be scalable to various vessel sizes. The proposal would need to indicate for the size of the vessel and corresponding volumes of greywater anticipated to be produced and then indicate the corresponding size of a treatment system capable of managing this waste stream.

Given that a microplastic is by definition a particle from 100 nm to 5 mm, is it essential to recover the entire range of particle size or, for example, if the technology developed collects up to 0.05 mm, can it be adopted all the same?

Transport Canada is looking for a technology that would be able to filter and capture more than 90% of all microplastics - so Transport Canada needs to collect the particles between 100 nm and 5 mm. Ideally the system would be able to capture a minimum of 90% and a removal rate of at least 98%, which would be an impossibility if you don't collect wider than 0.05 mm.

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