Ocean Plastic Cleanup Inventions
There is a lot of talk about our suffering environment yet action is often sparse. Sometimes there are too many chefs in the kitchen while the roast is burning and all it takes is for someone to step away from the pack and do something about it.
This is precisely what Boyan Slat, a Dutch engineering student as well as Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, two Australian surfers, set out to accomplish with their ocean cleanup technology.
Slat has invented a device on a grand scale able to use the ocean’s currents to skim tons of trash (one mass is as large as 5 states of Texas) off the surface.
The Australian surfers used swimming pool filtration technology to apply to ocean waste cleanup similar to a robotic vacuum now found in many homes.
Incidentally, a large amount of ocean trash is made up of plastic beverage containers. Hopefully, this will encourage you, or those you know, to switch to a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic.
The Ocean Array
Slat proposes to build one of the largest floating structures ever, called, “The Ocean Cleanup Array, [which] consists of solar-powered spinning booms that act as a floating barrier and use the ocean’s currents to collect plastic. The trial version will be 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) long.” (Grist 6/1/15).
This is one of the first energy efficient cleanup inventions that just may be able to make a significant impact.
On the Cusp
Scheduled for a two year trial off the coast of Japan this year (2016), Ocean Array will take advantage of plastic transported by natural ocean currents rather than chasing after it. This significantly reduces cost and environmental impact as much less fossil fuel will be used.
Grist reports that,
“Within five years, the organization [Ocean Cleanup] aims to deploy a 62-mile-long array that will be capable of capturing about half of the trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Slat said. According to a feasibility study conducted by the team of 100 scientists and engineers working with Slat, the giant array will be able to do that over 10 years.”
The Ocean Cleanup Array is completely safe for surrounding ocean life as it does not use invasive nets. There is also more testing that needs to be done when skimming micro-bead plastic waste. Hopefully this will create even more safety when it comes to preserving ocean life.
The Aussie Effect
The Australian surfer team call their invention The Seabin which seems to be better suited to harbor/inlet trash cleanup for now.
The Huffington Post reports that,
“A bucket connects to a water pump, sucking in any floating trash inside a removable mesh bag. There is also an optional oil-water separator system inside the pump. It can remove oil and detergents from the seawater before spitting it back into the ocean -- pollution-free -- through the other side of the pump.”
The surfers claim that in 4 years of testing not one fish or other ocean life had ever been caught in the device. Currently they are crowdfunding money to expand The Seabin to a larger, more advanced level in the hopes of expanding their cleanup to the planet’s harbors as well as oceans.
Finally, ocean plastic cleanup is becoming more of a tangible reality rather than continually discussed hot air. Keep an eye out for more progress in this sector while at the same time supporting less plastic use on dry land.