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Delft student set to clean the sea

A 19-year-old student, fed up with the pollution of the globe’s oceans, has designed an Ocean Cleanup Array (OCA). Inventor Boyan Slat claims that the device – comprising an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms – could remove as much as 7 250 000 tons of plastic debris from the sea.

Scientists agree that the greatest cause for concern is the Great Pacific ‘garbage patch’, estimated to be double the size of Texas and made up of all kinds of trash – from plastic bags to polystyrene. It is, however, not the only garbage patch littering the planet’s oceans.

Slat’s OCA is designed to span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be filtered and stored for safe recycling.

Slat started analysing the size and amount of plastic particles befouling the oceans as a student at the Delft University of Technology in Delft in the Netherlands, where his initial design for the OCA won him a Best Technical Design award. The project is still undergoing feasibility studies, but Slat says the booms will help scientists to locate and ‘herd’ the garbage patches, which are currently dispersed over millions of square kilometres.

Other worthy marine conservation projects include the Plastiki, a boat made out of 12 000 reclaimed plastic bottles and other recycled plastic and waste products, which sailed to various points around the world to raise awareness about the current rise in sea levels, ocean acidification and marine pollution.

Category: Winter 2013

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