Researchers hoping to deploy a 600-meter plastic-sweeper to the Pacific Ocean to clean up the notorious floating Great Garbage Patch have revealed the final design for their contraption.
The gigantic ‘pac man’ system consists of a 600-meter-long floating tube that sits at the surface of the water, with a tapered 3-meter-deep skirt attached below to catch plastic waste.
It harnesses the power of wind and surface waves to autonomously sweep through the area, gathering up plastic waste as it goes.
Ocean Cleanup Project was forced to radically redesign the system after tests of their original system found it moved too much due to waves.
Driven by the wind and waves, the system will power around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch gathering plastic like a ‘giant wind-and-wave-powered Pac-Man,’ said CEO Boyan Slat.
‘After completing the redesign last summer and passing third-party reviews, this is the design that is currently being constructed and is set to head into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch two months from now,’ he said.
Plastic waste collected by the system will be hauled away by a vessel every few months, and taken to land to be recycled.
‘Models show that a full-scale cleanup system roll-out (a fleet of approximately 60 systems) could clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years,’ the firm says.
‘After fleets of systems are deployed into every ocean gyre, combined with source reduction, The Ocean Cleanup projects to be able to remove 90% of ocean plastic by 2040.’
The system is designed to capture plastics ranging from small pieces just millimeters in size, up to large debris, including massive discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), which can can be tens of meters wide.
‘The screen is the part of the system that is meant to concentrate the subsurface plastic against the floaters,’ Ocean Cleanup explains.
‘It also plays an important role in the drifting behaviour of the system once it is fully deployed to freely move on the currents and the wind.
‘The 120-meter system, the longest we have deployed to date, has the similar screen set up as it will be on the full system.’
Arecent study found 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 80,000 metric tons are currently afloat in an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – and it is rapidly getting worse.