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Marine Litter Extractor Could Clean Ocean in 5 Year’s Time


Image source: Google Images

Lead by 19-year-old Boyan Slat, the Ocean Cleanup Array is a project designed to tackle oceanic waste by capturing plastic from marine garbage patches, known as gyres.

About 1/3 of all ocean surface is covered in plastic waste. Boyan Slat, a student, photographer, and diver, proposed the Ocean Cleanup Array as a means in which this pollution could be extracted, with the possibility of recycling the collected materials for future use in the creation of high-quality items. This could potentially cover the costs of the array’s implementation.

A proper cleansing of the ocean in its entirety is currently unattainable, however, it is possible to rid the ocean of most, if not all, of current levels of surface waste.

The Ocean Cleanup Array is expected to clean each gyre within 5 years. It will be self-powered, generating energy from the sun, currents, and waves. Though commercial ships are unlikely to frequent gyre-crossing paths, the array will sit parallel to shipping routes to ensure they remain undisturbed.


Image source: BoyanSlat.com

Rather than nets, the array uses booms to collect waste, using the currents created by the booms’ movement to capture surface plastic. This has the ecological benefit of not trapping marine life during operation. And, due to the slow speed at which the booms operate, any organisms that do come into contact can easily get away.

It should be noted, not yet have all studies been performed to establish the project’s complete feasibility. It looks promising thus far, and it has been established to contain at least half the desired rate of feasibility; but at the time of writing, studies are only one-fourth the way complete. Nonetheless, Slat’s Ocean Cleanup Array earned 2012’s Best Technical Design at the Delft University of Technology, where he currently attends classes for scholastic exercises in the field of Aerospace Engineering. The project has also won second place at the iSea Clash of the Concepts sustainable innovation award.

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