Semester and Master Projects

To apply, you can go here !

Science Projects

Degassing chamber

The project involves creating a degassing chamber to transfer water samples from the liquid phase to the gas phase. Once the water is in the gas phase, a low-cost CO2 sensor (such as this one) will be able to take precise and continuous measurements of the concentration of CO2 contained in the pumped water. The device needs to be small enough to fit on a sailboat. More information can be found here

A low-cost Raman microscope for detecting microplastics in the ocean

Raman spectroscopy – which analyses the light scattered by a laser beam on a sample – is a technique that can be used to identify plastics, as each plastic has a unique optical fingerprint. Furthermore, when coupled to a microscope, plastics down to < 1 μm in diameter can be studied. However, most commercial Raman microscopes are bulky, expensive pieces of equipment not fit for use on a boat. The aim of this project is to construct a low cost, small Raman microscope for use on a Sailowtech cruise. More information can be found here

Identifying microplastics in seawater

Currently we are unsure of how microplastics’ Raman signal with change: i) as the microplastic size is reduced; ii) when microplastics are in water, especially the complex environment of seawater; iii) the effect of aging due to solar radiation and tropospheric ozone. This project will explore these three questions, with the aim of creating a microplastic Raman library for samples in seawater. This library will be instrumental in identifying microplastics during a Sailowtech cruise. More information can be found here

Climate Change Impact on the plankton

During the “Alpine Lake” expedition organized by Sailowtech in February 2024, plankton samples will be collected. The purpose of these samples is twofold: firstly, to study the distribution of plankton in the lake through an analysis of the 18 S gene, and secondly, through cultivation and laboratory experiments, to understand how physico-chemical parameters of water (temperature, pH, etc.) influence plankton distribution. Different scenarios related to climate change will be selected, with the objective of better understanding how climate change can impact plankton and planktonic diversity. An analysis using microscopic expansion will also be conducted to obtain 3D images of plankton and visualize their internal structure.

A comparison of plankton distribution with data taken in summer will also be made.

More information can be found here

 

 

PFAS quantification

The project involves quantifying and qualifying the pollutants found in the plankton sampled during the “Alpine Lake” expedition organised by Sailowtech in February 2024. Quantification will focus on certain PFAS substances, which are still to be determined. An analysis of pollutants in the sediments may also be carried out. The aim of this project is to carry out an analysis of the concentrations of pollutants that can be found in plankton and to make the link with the food chain.

Over the course of the semester, new sampling sessions may be organised on Lake Geneva to complete the analysis.

More information can be found here

Water pump

The idea behind the project is to design a water pumping system that allows water to be taken continuously, at a fixed depth, over a period of time. The device will have to be as portable and low-tech as possible, so that it can be taken on board, used and repaired aboard a sailboat. More information can be found here

Volatility information of aerosols collected on nanomechanical membranes

The main objective of this project is to retrieve volatility-resolved chemical information of
complex mixtures as well as ambient aerosol samples. The first realistic goal of the project is
for the students to systematically characterize the EMILIE instrument in our lab with chemical
standards with a known volatility. Students will then gain first experience of communicating
with a start-up company (Invisible Light Labs, Vienna) as they discuss their findings and seek
to improve the method. Next, the goal of the students is to use statistical methods such as
singular value decomposition to do data analysis on their samples, possibly including the
ambient aerosol samples from the field campaign in Valais.

More information can be found here

Low-Tech Projects

Multi-Function Pedal System

The goal of the project is to develop a multifunctional pedal system (blender, charger, grinder, etc.) that can be folded or stowed on a sailboat. The main challenges include:

  • Designing a system with a sustainable life cycle: priority use of local, bio-sourced, and reclaimed materials.
  • Rethinking the current bicycle frame, which is impractical on a boat.
  • Studying the transmission and its efficiency.
  • Ensuring that the pedal system can be used for different purposes (easily changing the blender functionality, for example).
  • The construction of the pedal system.

More information to come.

Solar Gyroscopic Oven Base

The objective of the project is to develop a self-balancing base for a solar oven that must meet the following criteria:

  • The system should have a sustainable life cycle, prioritizing the use of local, bio-sourced, and reclaimed materials.
  • The self-stabilizing base should stabilize the solar oven while ensuring optimal exposure to the sun and compensating for the boat’s heel. It will depend on a solar-powered microprocessor (of small size).
  • The system should be easily accessible and replicable (with significant documentation) for reproduction on other sailboats.

More information to come.

Piggott Wind Turbine

The objective of the project is to develop and build a Piggott wind turbine that must meet the following criteria:

  • The system should have a sustainable life cycle, prioritizing the use of local, bio-sourced, and reclaimed materials.
  • The wind turbine must be built according to the Piggott model.
  • It must be adapted and redesigned for installation and use on a boat (considering stability and weather conditions).
  • The wind turbine should be easily accessible and replicable (with significant documentation) for local reproduction on other sailboats.

More information to come.

Rainwater Recovery and Valorization System

The objective of the project is to develop a structure for the recovery and valorization of rainwater.

The system should meet the following criteria:

  • A sustainable life cycle with priority use of local, bio-sourced, and reclaimed materials.
  • Ability to store a sufficient quantity of water to reduce the use of tap water by the habitat/commerce.
  • Integration into the landscape with minimal impact.
  • Easily accessible and replicable (with significant documentation) for reproduction on a smaller scale, especially on sailboats.
  • Ensuring sanitary safety for users of the recovered water.

More information to come.

Heading Regulator

The goal of the project is to develop a mechanical autopilot based on the angle formed by the boat and the apparent wind, rather than relying on the compass, as is the case with the current autopilot. This way, if the wind changes, the boat’s heading will also change.

Unlike a compass-linked autopilot, this regulator maintains a constant heading, keeping the sail settings.

The main challenges include:

  • Designing a system with a sustainable life cycle: priority use of local, bio-sourced, and reclaimed materials.
  • Choosing the type of regulator to build (favoring the version without an auxiliary rudder).
  • Understanding the apparent wind.
  • Studying the transmission between the aerial blade and the submerged blade.
  • The construction of the aerial blade functioning as a weather vane.
  • The construction of the submerged, vertical blade in the water. Its vertical axis is linked to the aerial blade, while its horizontal axis is connected to the boat’s tiller.

More information to come.

Solar Desalinator

More information to come.