General

The largest plastic debris mission in the ocean didn't work

In September 2018, it was launched quitelarge-scale and promising project The Ocean Cleanup. It was supposed to help cope with a very serious environmental problem - pollution of the Pacific Ocean with plastic garbage. “On paper” the system proposed by the authors of the project looked very promising, but in practice The Ocean Cleanup has a lot of problems and the whole expediency of the idea is called into question.

Let's start by recalling why The OceanCleanup was deployed precisely in the Pacific Ocean: the fact is that it is here that there are several large ocean currents and plastic garbage accumulates on the line of their intersection. This cluster is called the Great Pacific Garbage Spot. Its exact area is unknown, but according to rough estimates, it exceeds 1.5 million square kilometers.

Ocean Cleanup has developed a largea floating system of pipes in the form of the Latin letter U. According to the idea, these pipes should drift along with the flow and collect waste inside themselves, which can then be caught. The mission started in September, and problems began already in early October.

The first prototype, System 001, was launched into the ocean.between Hawaii and the coast of California. He was adrift and everything was almost as expected. Except that System 001 was unable to hold plastic debris inside.


Nevertheless, System 001 brought the benefit by catching a lot of lost fishing nets.

Experts suggested that System 001 could not hold plastic due to the difference in speed. Plastic moves faster than the U-shaped design.

“The device should work as artificialthe coastline, catching plastic that spins in the middle of the ocean just like trash drifts on the shore. ”said Ocean Cleanup COO Lonneke Holierhuk.

Now the width of one System 001 is 60meters. Experts are thinking of increasing its length to 70 meters, and, according to New Atlas, it will be like replacing “a small kite with a large one.”

However, it is too early to “bury" the project. The developers claim that this was only the first test sample and they were ready for such an outcome, and at the moment they are analyzing the situation and developing an improved version. System 002 will be tested in 2020. The plan to launch 60 Ocean Cleanup systems and clean 90% of the garbage stain by 2040 remains unchanged.

You can discuss this and other news in our chat in Telegram.