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24-Year-Old Inventor’s Huge Ocean Cleanup Device Launches For Pacific Ocean
By Yoon Sann Wong, 11 Sep 2018
Boyan Slat, 24-year-old CEO and founder of Ocean Cleanup
After five years of development, ‘System 001’ by non-profit Ocean Cleanup—brainchild of 24-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat—launched on Saturday to remove 80,000 tons of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
This area is where the largest amount of ocean plastic in the world resides and is located approximately mid-way between Hawaii and the coast of California. Created by circulating currents, the Patch has become roughly the size of France and is thought to contain 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic.
The massive 600-meter-long ‘System 001’ machine capitalizes on tidal movements to drift towards areas of high plastic concentration. It forms a horseshoe-shaped blockade to net debris that can subsequently be collected and recycled.
Should this initial launch prove successful, Ocean Cleanup intends to roll out a fleet of similar system to extract over half of the plastic debris collected in this area over the next five years.
While many ocean experts have expressed optimism about the technology, one major lingering concern is the entrapment of marine life in the system. There remains a possibility that ocean life can bypass beneath the three-meter-deep skirt that collects the plastic.
According to Sue Kinsey of the Marine Conservation Society, creatures that travel close to the water’s surface, such as jellyfish, would find it difficult to escape. In an interview with the BBC, she explained that animals accustomed to passively floating in the sea “that can’t actually move out of the way” would find themselves imprisoned upon entering this array.
‘System 001’ will initiate with a two-week trial in open water, roughly 250 to 350 nautical miles offshore from San Francisco, before traveling towards the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, about 1,200 nautical miles offshore, where it will start its operations.
Researchers aim to achieve a clearer idea on how well this system will work by year-end.
Learn more about the Ocean Cleanup technology in its bite-sized video below.
[via Independent and The Ocean Cleanup, video via The Ocean Cleanup, images via The Ocean Cleanup]
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