Friday, June 13, 2014

The Ocean Cleanup : it could work

Teen engineer Boyan Slat announces his Ocean Cleanup invention could work

From TheEpochTimes by Olga Martinez

Dutch engineer Boyan Slat, has spent his teenage years searching for a solution to clean the oceans of pollution.
During a scuba diving holiday in Greece aged 16, he found there were more plastic bags than fish in the sea.
Back in Holland he spent his school project researching why there was so much plastic garbage roaming the oceans.
Up to now vessels with nets are used to fish out the floating debris, but it is both very costly and dangerous to marine life which gets caught in the nets.
Boyan thought to himself “Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can come through you?”
The teenager decided to set aside his social life and put his mind to inventing a workable solution.
The Ocean Cleanup Array was thus born.

Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup system consists of lengths of solid floating barriers moored to the ocean bed.
Two arms of over 50 km placed in a V shape will passively collect the garbage passing through.
A solar powered platform will collect the gathered plastic debris and shred it to pieces before being taken to land in containers.
The system will pose no threat to marine life as they will pass underneath the solid barriers moved by the ocean’s currents, thus preventing by-catch.
All floating material will stay at the surface level ready for collection.

The young inventor and his Ocean Cleanup team presented a year long scientific research study this month in New York and Delft in a simultaneous live broadcast.
The 530 pages report called How The Oceans Can Clean Themselves is a collaboration with over 100 experts worldwide and responds to questions related to engineering, oceanography, ecology, recycling, maritime law and finance.
Millions of tonnes of plastic debris accumulate permanently in the oceans.
Moved by rotating currents they gather at five key areas called gyres.
Boyan Slat’s clean up project will first tackle The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
His research states it could take ten years to collect half the debris present in the North Pacific Ocean when employing one Ocean Cleanup system.
Over a hundred thousand sea mammals and a million birds suffer a slow death each year due to either entanglement with nets and accumulated floating debris or by ingesting small pieces of plastic mistaken for food.

How we showed the Oceans could clean themselves

Many plastic particles are so small they are being mistaken for plankton. 
Prior to modern pollution, all matter in the ocean was biodegradable or edible.
Now turtles eat plastic bags mistake for jelly fish, and jelly fish eat small plastic particles mistaken for plankton.
And thus plastic has entered the food chain for good.

Unfortunately many cosmetic brands use microbeads in their products, such as toothpaste and face cleansers.
This minuscule polystyrene beads get flashed down the water stream ending up in the oceans and has thus entered the food chain.
Plastic when in contact with sea water and when baking in the sun becomes a sponge for toxic waste such as DDT, magnifying up to a million times  its toxic effects.
So alarmingly, when we eat fish products we are also ingesting toxic waste.

In this Epoch Times interview, the young social entrepreneur shares his hope for a future of biodegradable packaging.
Boyan hopes for adequate collection and recycling structures that will ensure no plastic ever journeys to the sea.
Boyan Slat sees his feasibility report as a clear and proven response to the many objections and critics they have faced during research.
In this interview Boyan mentions the top objections the Ocean Cleanup team have managed to overcome.
One major question was what to do with the collected debris, to which Boyan  answers it can be turned into oil and other hard materials.
The Ocean Cleanup Foundation has now launched a crowdfunding campaign so they can start building a large-scale operational pilot in three to four years’ time.
Their aim is to raise 2 million dollars in 90 days.
As of this date, almost five thousand investors have backed the project.

Links :
  • UNSW : Our plastics will pollute oceans for hundreds of years
  • Marine GeoGarage blog : Marine Litter Extraction : a teen innovator thinks he has a solution for plastic pollution in our oceans

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