The Ocean Cleanup to pilot test in American west coast later this year

Last November, we interviewed Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup which develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

Over the past 3 years, his company has moved from feasibility research, to reconnaissance missions, to extensive scale model and prototype testing. A few days back on 11 May 2017, Boyan unveiled the next phase of their epic undertaking – an improved system design that will enable them to start extracting plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next 12 months, and remove half the garbage found there in just 5 years, instead of 39,000 years.

Boyan unveiling the new sea anchors. Image credit: The Ocean Cleanup

The design improvement entails making the cleanup system mobile. Rather than fixing a system to the seabed at great depths, sea anchors will be used to ensure the system moves slower than the plastic for better capture efficiency. And instead of using just one massive system, the cleanup will be carried out by a fleet of systems.

Drifting barrier captures more debris than the fixed barrier. Image credit: The Ocean Cleanup

The floating systems can capture plastic of all sizes, from 1cm debris to discarded fishing nets (ghost nets) measuring tens of meters long. By removing the plastic while most of it is still large, we can prevent it from breaking down into dangerous microplastics which are often swallowed by wildlife such as sea turtles, resulting in their premature death.

Boyan showing microplastics retrieved from the stomach of a dead sea turtle in Uruguay. Image credit: The Ocean Cleanup

Combining the cleanup with source reduction on land will pave the road towards a plastic free ocean in 2050.

The first pilot parts are currently in production and testing of the pilot will start off the American west coast by the end of this year. By scaling up, researching and working together with world-renowed offshore companies (such as Boskalis, SBM Offshore and Heerema) and institutes (including IMARES, Deltares and MARIN), they aim to roll out the first deployment in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the first half of 2018, years ahead of schedule.

Click here to read more about The Ocean Cleanup’s latest milestones and technology. You can also watch the full announcement below:

Follow The Ocean Cleanup on Facebook for the latest updates.

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