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· Fast Company reports that Boyan Slat's team has redesigned the Ocean Cleanup device, and it is now ready to test the waters again at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
· What changes have been made to the device? How will it take on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
In late 2019, the giant Ocean Cleanup device—a huge floating barrier created to catch pieces of plastic trash floating in the sea that for years was the just a theoretical idea (and the subject of much press attention)—headed out for its first mission to the middle of the Pacific Ocean for a second time. The big question: Could the system actually work?
The answer was no. But after new tests at the patch this summer, new design tweaks seem to have solved the main problem, and the device is almost ready for a new mission—offering new hope for a chance to shrink the amount of plastic in our ocean.
The original design was fairly simple. A 2,000-foot-long tube, arranged in a U-shape, would float in the water with a screen hanging below it in the water, moving with the wind and the ocean currents. In theory, it would naturally move faster than the plastic floating in the water, creating an artificial shore where the plastic could be collected. The Great Pacific Gyre contains an estimated two trillion pieces of plastic, spread diffusely over an area twice the size of Texas; The Ocean Cleanup’s strategy is to concentrate that plastic into the device so it can be removed more easily.
“There were two main issues that we encountered, or ‘unscheduled learning opportunities,’ as we refer to them,” says Boyan Slat, the 25-year-old founder of the nonprofit. The first version, dubbed “Wilson,” fractured from the stress of being in the water. That was a problem, but not as difficult to solve as the second challenge: the device wasn’t actually moving at the right speeds to capture plastic. Sometimes it was too slow, sometimes too fast.
Read the full article about the Ocean Cleanup device by Adele Peters at Fast Company.