Capella Days - Integrating MBSE and Life Cycle Assessment for removing plastics from the oceans

More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans every year. If we don’t take action, in 2050, there will be more plastic than fishes in the oceans!

Plastic wastes, by taking between 450 and 500 years to be eliminated “naturally”, kill 1 million birds, and 100 000 marine mammals each year. Moreover, during this very very long period it will progressively be decomposed into increasingly tiny plastic fragments. With the consequence that the smaller the fragment, the easier it is for it to disseminate into living species and water that humans absorb too.

The SeaCleaners is an association founded to provide global, long-term and worldwide solutions for fighting against ocean plastic pollution. The flagship project initiated by The SeaCleaners is the MANTA, the first seagoing vessel capable of collecting and processing in continuous flow large quantities of macro plastic waste floating at the surface of oceans. Its design has been focusing on many innovative technologies in the field of renewable energy production or by limiting its global carbon footprint and maximizing the energy self-sufficiency.

Manta’s technical development is led by MANTA INNOVATION, a French company which sole shareholder is the association The SeaCleaners.

The Manta

Minimizing the environmental impacts of this ship was one of the key concerns of the design team since the beginning. This leads to numerous reflections on the subject of energy consumption, mixed propulsion mechanisms, mixed energy production and of course … waste emissions.

Making the right design choices, fully adapted to the Manta’s mission, is very challenging. Because analysing the Manta’s impacts as a vessel must be complemented with an analysis of its missions’ impacts. In other words, how much should the Manta minimize its impacts on the environment without preventing the future missions to collect the most plastic as possible?

In order to challenge their choices, the technical team of MANTA INNOVATION started a Life Cycle Analysis - or Assessment - (LCA) in partnership with Altran (whose bringing their LCA and Eco-Design expertise) and Obeo (whose bringing the Capella tooling expertise). A LCA “is a methodology for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life-cycle of a commercial product, process, or service”. An LCA study consists of inventorying the energy and materials that are required, along with the emissions that are released to the environment, from the construction of the product, during its whole usage period, until the end-of-life processing (recycling or destruction). Such LCA studies are conducted with dedicated tools such as SimaPro or OpenLCA that are connected to environmental databases. The result of an LCA study may contribute to evaluate architectural design tradeoffs and select better design options.


On complex systems, such as the Manta, composed of hundreds of different components, the inventory phase is quite complex and time-consuming as it requires to enter the decomposition of the system into the LCA tool. And on preliminary design phases, when the architecture and technical choices can still change, the information in the LCA may be desynchronized and lead to wrong conclusions.

To facilitate LCA studies on complex products by shortening the inventory phase and ensuring the input data related to the system is correct, Obeo has developed an Eclipse Capella extension that integrates Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and Life-Cycle Analysis approaches. This extension has been experimented on a MANTA sub-system.

Developed in partnership with Altran and The SeaCleaners, this extension has been experimented on the Manta’s Waste to Energy Conversion Unit, the component that aims at converting collected plastic into energy. This sub-system is composed of three units:

  • Waste Preparation Unit
  • Waste to Fuel Conversion Unit
  • Fuel to Energy Conversion Unit

The extension consists of additional concepts added to Capella model elements for inventorying components’ physical characteristics, energy quantities and the substances they consume and/or emit.

Logical Architecture of the Waste to Energy Conversion Unit

Attached to components, functions or exchanges, the information characterizes input or output flows (quantity and type of substance, material or energy, …).

Details of LCA data added to Capella model elements

This information can be automatically exported as an initial inventory analysis to LCA tools used by environmental experts (Altran team) to perform their impact analysis (such as SimaPro and OpenLCA).

Data exported into OpenLCA

As part of Capella Days, the 13th of October at 5:25 PM EST, Arnaud Dieumegard and Raphaël Pagé, engineers at Obeo, presented this Capella extension and how it helps the system designers make architecture decisions that are better for the planet.


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