Ocean Cleanup Array: Clearing the Ocean of Plastic Safely and Efficiently

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Boyan Slat has created a plan that hopes to reduce the garbage found in the ocean, without endangering wildlife while remaining economically viable.

We’re all aware of the amount of garbage floating around our oceans, with clear examples everywhere for the unenlightened. Whether it’s the disgustingly huge floating mass of refuse sometimes known as Garbage Island, or the amount of plastic debris washing up on beaches around the world every year. One young innovative mind has created a device and plan that aims to begin cleaning up our oceans safely and even profitably.

The Ocean Cleanup Array 1 Ocean Cleanup Array: Clearing the Ocean of Plastic Safely and Efficiently

The Ocean Array Plan projects a removal of 7,250,000 tons of plastic from the oceans using the Ocean Cleanup Array. This embedded device will be anchored to the seabed around the 5 gyres, or oceanic garbage patches, letting the movement of the ocean do the work instead of the Array itself, which keeps the costs, manpower, and emissions down.

Instead of using nets to trap the debris, which would also result in a large number of wildlife by-catches, the OCA uses booms to guide the debris while presumably even allowing plankton to pass by the device. The range of the booms would also allow for a much larger area to be covered, and the flexible movement of the booms – compared to the wings of a manta ray – allow the OCA to survive some of the heavy weather and currents the high seas provide.

The Ocean Cleanup Array 2 Ocean Cleanup Array: Clearing the Ocean of Plastic Safely and Efficiently

The platforms would be completely self-supportive, using various green methods to power the OCA, like solar and hydro energy, further reducing emissions and costs. Which brings us to one of the most interesting theories provided by the OAP, which is the fact that it may even turn out to be a profitable way to clean the oceans.

By selling all of the plastic collected by the various platforms, the potential to make more money than the platforms cost exists, which would make a huge difference in seeing this project brought to production. While Slat and the development team are quick to point out that most of these potential benefits of the OAP have yet to be fully confirmed through testing, the sheer potential of this idea is enough to start a bit of buzz on the project.

The Ocean Cleanup Array 3 Ocean Cleanup Array: Clearing the Ocean of Plastic Safely and Efficiently

The development team expects the feasibility study to be published online by the end of the year, so we hope to see more on this project in the next few months. Below you can watch Slat speaking at TEDxDelft 2012 about the project. For a more in depth look at the OAP, and for ways to contribute to the project, check out Boyan Slat‘s website.


Images: boyanslat.com, Erwin Zwart / Fabrique Computer Graphics

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