JUN 25, 2019 6:59 AM PDT

Floating Plastic Clean up Device Back at Sea

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

A device slated to clean up 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years was recently redeployed on its second mission. The Ocean Cleanup—an organization founded in 2013 by then 18-year old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat—developed the passive drifting system. Slat relayed the news of the relaunch through Twitter, stating “Hopefully nature doesn’t have too many surprises in store for us this time. Either way, we’re set to learn a lot from this campaign.”

The initial system, dubbed “System 001” or “Wilson,” was launched from San Francisco on September 8, 2018, for its first cleanup attempt. After four months at sea, Wilson had to return to port earlier than planned due to the structural malfunctioning of an 18-meter (59 ft.) section of the system. In addition, the system was not retaining the debris that it collected, which has now been attributed to inconsistent velocity.

This video from The Ocean Cleanup details the changes made to Wilson, now called “System 001/B:"

According to The Ocean Cleanup’s website, the system “takes advantage of natural oceanic forces to catch and concentrate plastic.” The device consists of a 600-meter long (1968.5 ft.) floater that sits on the surface of the water. Attached below the floater is a tapered 3-meter deep (9.8 ft.) screen that can capture plastics as small as a few millimeters. The system is U-shaped and is carried by the same currents that carry the plastic debris, although the system moves faster than the trash that it is intended to trap.

The system is autonomous, energy neutral, and scalable. It’s also designed to be inherently safe to marine life and stormproof. Every six to eight weeks, the debris will be collected by “garbage truck” vessels and brought back to shore for sorting and recycling. The Ocean Cleanup Project intends to use funds from the sales of recyclable plastic to fund future ventures, making the overall project self-sustainable.

The Ocean Cleanup Project intends to have a fleet of approximately 60 of these systems that could remove 90% of ocean plastic by 2040. They plan to launch a second system at the beginning of next year.

Sources: The Ocean Cleanup, The Guardian, Header Image via The Ocean Cleanup

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
MAY 22, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Some Coral Turn Neon When Stressed
MAY 22, 2020
Some Coral Turn Neon When Stressed
Corals are immobile animals, and coral reefs are considered to be the most diverse ecosystems in the sea.
MAY 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
The Pistol Shrimp's Secret Weapon...
MAY 24, 2020
The Pistol Shrimp's Secret Weapon...
Pistol shrimp have a unique reputation as one of the ocean’s most intriguing crustaceans. Most are only about the ...
MAY 31, 2020
Plants & Animals
These Penguin Chicks Now Face the Trials of Adulthood
MAY 31, 2020
These Penguin Chicks Now Face the Trials of Adulthood
Like any other bird species, adult penguins follow the tried and true tradition of raising their young close to the nest ...
JUN 04, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Hydrogen-Powered Tankers Could Be the Future Face of Global Logistics
JUN 04, 2020
Hydrogen-Powered Tankers Could Be the Future Face of Global Logistics
International trade heavily depends on gigantic cargo ships to transport goods across oceans, and a majority of these ma ...
JUN 08, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Unlocking Deep Ocean Mysteries with eDNA
JUN 08, 2020
Unlocking Deep Ocean Mysteries with eDNA
The ocean remains largely unexplored, and the ocean’s twilight zone is of key interest to researchers. Named for t ...
JUL 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
Almost All Wild Bee-Plant Networks Have Been Disrupted or Lost
JUL 16, 2020
Almost All Wild Bee-Plant Networks Have Been Disrupted or Lost
In the wild, bees rely on the flora and fauna in their environment to survive. Networks of plants and their pollinators ...
Loading Comments...