Design breakthrough cuts cleanup time in half, first parts of system now in production.
UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS, May 11, 2017 – The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch foundation developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic, today announced it will start extracting plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next 12 months. The Ocean Cleanup further announced that parts of its first cleanup system are already in production. Thanks to an improved design, The Ocean Cleanup has increased the efficiency of the system, allowing for the cleanup of half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 5 years.
The main idea behind The Ocean Cleanup is to let the ocean currents do the work. An installation of U-shaped screens channels floating plastic to a central point. The concentrated plastic can then be extracted and shipped to shore for recycling into durable products. The improvements announced today involve the introduction of a mobile, or drifting system. Rather than fixing the floating screens to the seabed at great depths, The Ocean Cleanup will apply sea anchors to ensure the floating screens move slower than the plastic. Rather than one massive barrier, the improved, modular cleanup system consists of a fleet of screens.
This new, modular technology and the successful funding round announced on May 3, 2017, enable The Ocean Cleanup to accelerate production, deployment and the actual extraction of plastic from the ocean. Testing of the first system will start off the American west coast by the end of 2017. With the first deployment in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the first half of 2018, The Ocean Cleanup will start its mission two years ahead of schedule.
In front of a live audience of thousands of its supporters, and a large group of followers online, The Ocean Cleanup shared details on the improved design and announced the start of the cleanup. Speaking at the Werkspoorkathedraal in Utrecht, the Netherlands, The Ocean Cleanup’s founder and CEO Boyan Slat demonstrated the new technology and unveiled the first parts of the cleanup system: four 12-meter (40-foot) high anchor components.
Boyan Slat commented: “At The Ocean Cleanup we are always looking for ways to make the cleanup faster, better and cheaper. Today is another important day in moving in that direction. The cleanup of the world’s oceans is just around the corner.” He added that the large-scale trials of its cleanup technology in the Pacific Ocean later this year are still experimental in nature. “Due to our attitude of ‘testing to learn’ until the technology is proven, I am confident that – with our expert partners – we will succeed in our mission.”
Note for the editors, not for publication.
Vivian ten Have / Claire Verhagen
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Photos and video footage, as well as the full presentation, can be downloaded from https://theoceancleanup.com/press/
About The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup designs and develops advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic. Our purpose is to drive the largest cleanup in history through the large-scale, efficient and environmentally-sound removal of plastic pollution from aquatic ecosystems.
Founded in 2013 by then 18-year-old Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs approximately 65 engineers and researchers. The foundation is headquartered in Delft, The Netherlands.
Instead of going after plastic debris with vessels and nets – which would take many thousands of years and billions of dollars to complete – The Ocean Cleanup is developing a network of long floating barriers that act like an artificial coastline, enabling the natural ocean currents to concentrate the plastic. Besides, The Ocean Cleanup designs processes to turn recovered ocean plastic into valuable raw materials.
In preparation for full-scale deployment, The Ocean Cleanup organized several expeditions to map the plastic pollution problem in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with unprecedented detail. Meanwhile, the team has advanced its design through a series of rapid iteration scaling-up tests, followed by a 100-meter prototype, that was deployed on the North Sea in June 2016. System tests off the American west coast will start by the end of 2017. The first deployment in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is scheduled to take place in the first half of 2018.
According to computer models, The Ocean Cleanup will be able to remove 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 5 years.