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New Ocean Cleanup Array Set To Deploy This Year — Potential To Save Our Oceans From Microscopic Plastic

by onApril 20, 2016
 

21 year old Boyan Slat is the founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup and inventor of the Ocean Cleanup Array; one of the worlds best (if not only) solutions to combat the enormous amount of plastic in the ocean. Currently the Pacific Ocean is home to a mass of plastic pollution the size of Texas, and we add about 8 million tons to the ocean every year.

Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it and other garbage patches like it are not actually visible by Satellite or even boat. This is because they consist mostly of microscopic particles suspended in the upper water column. This makes them incredibly hard to clean up, and conventional methods are too slow to make even the slightest dent.

Ocean Cleanup Array Diagram of How It Works

That’s where The Ocean Cleanup Array comes in. By using a V-shaped array of floating barriers, it catches plastic deposited by natural ocean currents. Able to capture the microscopic plastics that our oceans are primarily contaminated with, the design is truly revolutionary.

Moored to the ocean floor, it stays still and let’s the ocean’s currents pull lighter than water pollution through it’s array while any neutrally buoyant sea creatures pass under unharmed. The captured plastic is then funneled towards the center of the structure where it’s collected.

Ocean Cleanup Area Could Save Our Oceans

Ocean Cleanup Array Diagram of How It Works

Unlike anything every built before, these giant barriers have the potential to truly make an impact on our oceans. 7900x faster than conventional methods, this is truly one of the only realistic ways of cleaning up our ocean’s plastic pollution that we currently have.

The Ocean Cleanup’s feasibility study indicates that a single 100 kilometer-long cleanup array could remove 42% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over a period of 10 years. In our most conservative estimate this amounts to over 70 million kilos of plastic, at a cleanup cost of 4.53 Euro per kilo.

Ocean Cleanup Array Diagram of How It Works

After years of development, testing and hype…the array is finally going to be deployed in open ocean. The team will be testing a 100 meter-long barrier segment within the next two months.

They plan on deploying it about 23 km off the coast of The Netherlands in the North Sea. Hoping to monitor the effects of real-life sea conditions such as waves and currents, this will be a very important test to understand if the array’s current state of development can be scaled up to a much larger size and still succeed.

Ocean Cleanup Area Could Save Our Oceans

The floating barriers are regarded as one of the most critical elements of the concept, since they are responsible for capturing and concentrating the plastic debris. Due to their size and the extreme oceanic conditions, the barriers have always been top focus of the engineering team. After extensive computer modelling and scale model testing in controlled environments at the Deltares and MARIN basins, our engineers believe it is time to move the barrier to the next stage of development.

 

This test will also give The Ocean Cleanup engineers vital data necessary for the array’s first operational deployment off the coast of Tsushima, Japan set for the second half of this year. The Japanese deployment will be much larger, at 2000 meters.

If successful it will become the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean. The current plan is to have it in operation for two years to combat plastic pollution before it reaches the shores of Tsushima island.

Ocean Cleanup Area Could Save Our Oceans

Founder & CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. Boyan

If the tests in both the Netherlands and Japan are successful, The Ocean Cleanup will move into it’s next phase of developing “a passive technology to clean up the world’s oceanic garbage patches”.

All the data and knowledge collected will make sure that the effectiveness and durability of a large-scale system will be feasible. If so, in 2020 they plan to deploy a MUCH larger array (100km) in the Pacific Ocean with a goal of cleaning up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within 10 years.

For more about the project visit The Ocean Cleanup website!

References: The Ocean Cleanup 2 3 – National Geographic – Inhabitat – Wikipedia

 

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