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The Ocean Cleanup Project
Transcript of The Ocean Cleanup Project
Using both computer simulations and scale model tests, we engineered a boom that can operate in over 95% of conditions. On top of that, a conservative safety factor of 2.5 was applied. And, if waves get even higher than predicted, the booms segments will decouple at one end, letting the waves move through the Array unimpeded, which will save the equipment from catastrophic failure.
Using Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations, we calculated that approximately 80% of the plastic encountering the boom will be captured. We also showed that the plastic, including the submerged particles, will be transported along the angled booms, confirming that the Array can indeed concentrate plastic.
Although plankton will likely be taken away safely
by the current, even if all of the plankton encountering the booms were to be destroyed, the time it would take for the biomass to regenerate would be less than 7 seconds a year. Because no nets are used, entanglement of fish or mammals is virtually impossible. Furthermore, the carbon footprint will be about equal to several hundred cars,
a negligible amount compared with the alternatives.
After collecting almost half
a ton of plastic from the Hawaiian shoreline, The Ocean Cleanup measured how degraded the plastic was, which turned out to be surprisingly positive. With this knowledge we continued testing, and proved ocean plastic is suitable to be turned into oil. We have also been testing whether or not the plastic can be turned into new materials through mechanical recycling, with promising results.
Thanks to small operational expenditures, high capture efficiency and the possibility of reusing the plastics, it will only cost €4,50 for every kg of plastic removed, about 33 times less expensive than conventional cleanup methods. This is excluding the value of the extracted plastic, which can potentially cover a major part of these costs. Considering the $ 13B the UNEP estimates is the annual damage of oceanic plastic pollution, it is likely more cost-effective to clean up then to leave it in the oceans.
THE GREAT GARBAGE PATCH
20-year old Boyan Slat invented a concept to passively clean the oceans of plastic. The concept would utilize the natural currents to let the oceans clean themselves, in what would become the largest cleanup in history.
In 2013 Boyan founded The Ocean Cleanup foundation, which now has over 100 volunteers including many scientists and engineers. Thanks to the support of more than 15 institutions, companies and many individual funders, The Ocean Cleanup has been able to perform a large amount of research, which leads us to the most exciting part of this journey...
After being ingested by fish, these persistent organic pollutants bio-accumulate in our food chain
A cleanup of our oceans has always been deemed impossible, costing billions of dollars and thousands of years.
Is one of the 5 areas known as ‘gyres’ where ocean currents converge, concentrating plastic pollution.
Every gyre contains up to millions of pieces of plastic
More than a million animals die each year because of this plastic, either through ingestion or entanglement
Toxic chemicals are absorbed by the plastic, increasing the concentration a million times
In total an estimated 500.000.000 kg of plastic floats in our oceans
Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? Attaching an array of floating barriers and platforms to the sea bed enables us to concentrate the plastic before extracting it from the ocean —a collection process 100% driven by the natural winds and currents.
Instead of nets, we make use of solid floating barriers, making entanglement of wildlife impossible. Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all (neutrally buoyant) organisms, and preventing by-catch, while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier.
The scalable array of moorings and booms is designed for large-magnitude deployment, covering millions of square kilometers without moving a centimeter.
Thanks to its projected high capture and field efficiency, a single gyre can be covered in just 5-10 years (or longer, depending on the chosen deployment strategy).
Capturing plastics, not sea life
Well, Boyan sees it differently...
And apparently there is no feasible solution.
Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you?
But an idea alone will not clean our oceans...
After having determined the forces acting on floating barriers using computer software, engineers noted that a barrier anchored to the sea floor would pull tight under strain, stopping it from following the waves.
To solve this problem, we came up with a new boom design in which the tension-carrying cable and the boom itself are separated, enabling the boom to move with the motion of the waves (like an inverted pendulum). Early tests suggests this significantly reduces the wave-induced forces.
Small scale model tests indicated
The Ocean Cleanup Boom to perform
significantly better than conventional
booms, while deploying a 40 meter long
boom near the Azores showed us that a boom can
indeed capture and concentrate plastic pollution.
The recently concluded
has shown that it's not just a groundbreaking idea, but a very real possibility...
Millions of tons of plastic are polluting our oceans, killing
over 1,000,000 sea animals each year impacting our health and
costing billions in damages.
Our goal is a large-scale and fully operational pilot in 3 to 4 years’ time
A series of up-scaled tests, oceanographic field research and in-depth engineering to eliminate uncertainties and optimize technical design
But we need
For as little as $6 we can clean 1kg of plastic