Project Ocean Cleanup, a high-profile effort to bring technological innovation to solving the ocean plastic pollution crisis, has released new details on the redesign of its flagship machine.
In announcing the changes, project founder and Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat said they would advance the project’s start time from 2020 to 2018. According to Slat, the design improvements will speed up the cleaning process, increase its effectiveness, and make it cheaper and easier to deploy. Instead of gathering 42 percent of debris from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” over a decade, the project says the improvements will allow the machine to scoop up 50 percent in five years.
Among the changes to the design, the machine will be held in place by large anchors hanging about two hundred meters below the ocean’s surface. The earlier design anchored it to the seafloor. As ocean currents move much more slowly at that depth than at the surface, this should hold the machine in place.
The free-floating design of the clean-up system also means that it will move similarly to how plastics travel through the ocean. This should send it towards locations where a lot of plastic has accumulated.
Take a look at this video from 1:36 onward for a visual representation of the anchor system, and how the machine will be deployed.
Slat announced the design improvements in this video, starting at 08:54. The short talk includes explanations of the ocean plastic problem, as well as a live demonstration of how the new design works.