Following the first tests at sea, the project reshapes its floating barriers and prepares for its official launch on the Pacific Waste Island in late summer.
The ocean clean-up project started the countdown to the launch of its first sea barriers for the collection of plastic. From the first version of the project, designed in 2013, to the one that will be released this fall, many things have changed.
After sea trials, the project team was forced to redesign its floating barriers to make them wind and wave proof. The original design consisted, in fact, of a floating system left adrift at the mercy of the current. The structure consists of tubes 1 to 2 km long, a rigid panel placed under them to collect the plastic fragments under the surface of the water and an anchor at a depth of 600 meters that slows down their movement.
But the team had underestimated the impact of wind and waves on the surface. During testing they discovered that these elements could often be combined to bend the system into a U-shape and accelerate the speed of the barriers in the water. Therefore, the designers decided to change their approach. ” The implementation of the idea is never a straight line ,” wrote Boyan Slat, the creator of The Ocean Cleanup, on Twitter. The new design is not intended to oppose the wind and waves, but to exploit them in your favor.
The path between an idea and the realization is never a straight line. Here’s the story of why we said goodbye to the sea anchors and developed a giant wind-and-wave-powered Pac Man instead https://t.co/jG5npE7pB9
– Boyan Slat (@BoyanSlat) July 21, 2018
The anchor has been removed and the bars have been redesigned because the bottom panel hangs 3 meters below the surface in the center of the system, thinning on the sides. In this way, the central part will always be behind and the side edges, more aerodynamic, in front, forming a kind of giant mouth. The collected plastic waste will be transported to a ship every few months and brought ashore for recycling. All the electronics of the project, such as sensors, cameras, lights, navigation modules and satellite antennas, are powered by solar energy.
The intention is to deploy 60 units, which should clear 50% of the great Pacific Garbage continent in five years.