Ready to launch ocean cleanup sweeper

Published on September 4th, 2018

A 600-meter plastic-sweeper set to head to the Pacific Ocean to clean up the notorious floating Great Garbage Patch is finally ready for launch.

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.

The plan is for it to be launched on September 8 from its assembly yard in Alameda, CA where it will be towed out of San Francisco Bay toward the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The GPGP, defined as the area with more than 10 kg of plastic per km2, measures 1.6 million square kilometers, three times the size of continental France.

Accumulated in this area are 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 80.000 metric tons, the equivalent of 500 Jumbo Jets.

The Ocean Cleanup team has spent six months building the contraption.

Called Wilson in reference to the famous volleyball from the film Castaway, it will initially be taken around 250 nautical miles offshore where the system will undergo operational testing over a period of two weeks, before continuing on to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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.

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 be tens of meters wide.

Full report, photos, and video… click here.

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