Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Ocean clean-up halted as plastic waste project hits new snag

The 2,000-foot-long system created to clean up plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean appears in an undated The 2,000-foot-long system created to clean up plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean appears in an undated
Cary Marshall | 06 January, 2019, 12:52

'We are, of course, quite bummed about this as we hoped to stay out for a bit longer to collect more data on plastic-system interaction, and it introduces an additional challenge to be solved, ' Slat said. "It has been four weeks since we deployed System 001 in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)", Slat wrote in an update on The Ocean Cleanup's website.

The system has been collecting more than just plastic.

The 2,000-foot long boom is created to capture marine plastic via 10-foot deep screens, with bulkheads for storage. The entire structure will now have to be towed to the United States for repairs. The system was created to gather plastic pollution from the ocean's surface to a depth of 10 feet.

Founder & CEO Boyan Slat announced the news in a December 31 blog post, saying "setbacks like this are inevitable when pioneering new technology at a rapid pace", and maintaining that " these teething troubles are solvable, and the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be operational in 2019".

Hopefully, no one is keeping score because if they were it would be Great Pacific Garbage Patch: 2, Wilson: 0.

More news: Rory McIlroy three off lead in Tournament of Champions

Slat told CNN earlier this year that the patch contained an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 80,000 metric tons.

"Although it is too early to confirm the cause of the malfunction, we hypothesize that material fatigue (caused by about 10^6 load cycles), combined with a local stress concentration, caused a fracture in the HDPE floater", Slat said, adding that the issue is "solvable".

The young inventor noted that the break in the device did not pose any danger for the crew, environment or passing marine traffic. Some debris had been eluding capture because the system apparently was not consistently traveling faster than the plastic, the Ocean Cleanup announced about a month ago.

Slat noted in his blog post that once fully operational, the system is expected to harvest 2,200 pounds of plastic per week. The crew is looking at ways to speed the system and studying the effect of currents and waves on plastics' ability to enter the mouth for collection.

"The system isn't able to retain the plastic well, so once it's caught we also sometimes see it floating out again", Slat said.

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