University students develop ‘whalecro’


Students of Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation in Malaysia – comprising Jing Hung Chan, Tan Jia-Hao, Joon Yi Lim, Lim Cher Khai, and Mostafa Marzouk – have developed an underwater sucking device named Whalecro that filters micro debris in the ocean using Velcro straps. These Velcros are strapped around lint roller-like handles and injected into machinery that stirs them.


When the device swims, the water current flows in the opposite direction, allowing the micro debris to be slurped by Whalecro where it passes through motor-powered filters. The rotating filters will then capture all micro debris as water current flows through them.


The students thought of using Velcro straps for their collective project to try to hook pieces of trash that float and swim in the ocean. They aimed to trap these bits of waste through the tight bristles of the straps, and after a series of tests, the students were successful in devising an ocean vehicle that people could easily use to extract micro debris in the sea and dispose them properly in a bin.

images courtesy of the students, via James Dyson Awards



Design inspired by whale sharks


The students who have developed Whalecro experimented with different designs and shapes before settling in on an aquarium-shaped container with six rotating rollers covered in Velcro straps. The first prototype was built using LEGO technique by stacking up materials such as PVC and plastic containers.


They then threw in a motor to make everything move. To make it portable, the students installed the mechanism inside a whale shark-shaped design with handles on the side, so that divers can use their invention as a floatation device and swimming gear that help them snake through the water, all while cleaning up the ocean.


The students are looking into increasing the efficiency of the product by experimenting with different sizes or surface designs of Velcro straps. They will also be exploring other applications of this concept in other global problems, but have not yet indicated which.


They also intend to apply for patents and boost the development of their invention with advanced technologies. In the meantime, they are tinkering with ways to improve Whalecro, which was named a national runner-up in the James Dyson Award, and put the device out on the market.

whalecro vehicle captures ocean microdebris via velcro straps as users move underwater
whalecro vehicle captures ocean microdebris using velcro straps



project info:


name: Whalecro

students: Jing Hung Chan, Tan Jia-Hao, Joon Yi Lim, Lim Cher Khai, Mostafa Marzouk

institution: Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation