After six months of assembly, the System 001 Ocean Cleanup system is officially complete. The cleanup system will start to be towed in two days by the Maersk Launcher.
The system (floater, skirt and stabilizers) were transferred into the lagoon on August 24th to assemble the last few elements. These include the E&I pods, that are equipped with the navigation lights, GPS, satellite communication equipment, cameras and AIS tracking devices. The pods also include solar panels to power the electrical equipment on the system while it is out at sea.
It will head to a Pacific Trials location, 250-350 nautical miles offshore. After 2 weeks of operational testing, the Maersk Launcher and System 001 will continue their journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, another 1000 nautical miles away.
Ocean Cleanup has had 273 scale model tests, six at-sea prototypes and performed a comprehensive mapping of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with 30 vessels and an airplane.
Cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using conventional methods – vessels and nets – would take thousands of years and tens of billions of dollars to complete. Ocean Cleanup projects passive systems are estimated to remove half the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just five years, and at a fraction of the cost.
Ocean cleanup technology creates an artificial coastline. The Ocean cleanup system consists of a 600-meter-long floater that sits at the surface of the water and a tapered 3-meter-deep skirt attached below. The floater provides buoyancy to the system and prevents plastic from flowing over it, while the skirt stops debris from escaping underneath.
Both the plastic and system are being carried by the current. However, wind and waves propel only the system, as the floater sits just above the water surface, while the plastic is primarily just beneath it. The system thus moves faster than the plastic, allowing the plastic to be captured.
Models show that a full-scale cleanup system roll-out (a fleet of approximately 60 systems) could clean 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just five years.
After fleets of systems are deployed into every ocean gyre, combined with source reduction, The Ocean Cleanup projects to be able to remove 90% of ocean plastic by 2040.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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