The main shifts in our concept have involved the switch from a moored system to a drifting system and later to an active system. We learned this has many advantages: higher plastic capture efficiency, reduced deployment and maintenance costs, and reduced risk of system damage due to lower forces from wind, waves, and currents, to name a few.
System 001 suffered from fatigue issues and could not keep a sufficient speed difference with the plastic. The learnings gained from System 001 were implemented into a redesign: System 001/B, a smaller, modular version that could be adjusted offshore if necessary. Although we did successfully capture and retain plastic, we concluded that we could not effectively scale up with this design. Therefore, with System 002, we developed a new approach that uses active propulsion to move slightly faster than the plastic continuously. With an actively propelled system, we will be able to catch plastic more quickly and efficiently because contrary – to the passive approach – we can now direct our system towards areas with high concentrations of plastic.
System 002 received proof of technology in October 2021. We continued to harvest plastic System 002 while beginning the gradual transition to System 03, which was completed in August 2023. System 03 is not only significantly bigger (wings length and depth + retention zone length) but also features upgraded system components to reduce overtopping and increase integrity and reliability – improving uptime and capture efficiency.
As we have scaled up the size of our system, we have also increased our measures to safeguard marine life and the environment during our operations. As well as the elements already in place with System 002, we added additional underwater cameras all along the Retention Zone of System 03. These cameras are monitored by protected species observers (PSOs) on board. System 03 also has a newly developed Marine Animal Safety Hatch, which can be activated to create an opening for the animal to exit while closing off the rest of the Retention Zone and preventing the animal from becoming trapped. This function also prevents us from losing our entire plastic catch when we are required to free an animal. The MASH complements the other (already existing) openings on the underside of the retention zone.
System 03 was deployed on its first cleaning trip in August 2023. As with any other change and upgrade, we need to test and learn how to operate it efficiently before deciding how to move forward. We aim for System 03 to be the blueprint for scale-up to a full fleet. Stay tuned to follow the learnings from System 03 on our website and social media.