The most ambitious mission to clean the ocean from plastic garbage has not worked

In September 2018, was launched a rather ambitious and promising project The Ocean Cleanup. He had to help deal with very serious environmental problem — pollution of the Pacific ocean 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 feasibility of the whole venture is questionable.

To begin with, let us recall why The Ocean Cleanup was deployed in the Pacific ocean: the fact that there are several major ocean currents and on the line crossing accumulated plastic trash. This cluster was called the Pacific garbage patches. Its exact area is unknown, but according to rough estimates, it exceeds 1.5 million square kilometers.

Ocean Cleanup has developed a large floating system of pipes in the form of the Latin letter U. On the idea of these tubes should drift with the current and collect inside the waste, which you can then catch. The mission was launched in September and in early October the problems started.

The first prototype, System 001, was launched in the ocean between Hawaii and the California coast. He was adrift and it was pretty much as expected. Except for the fact that the 001 System was unable to keep plastic trash inside.


The benefit System 001 still brought, catch a lot of lost fishing nets

Experts have suggested that System 001 can’t hold on to plastic because of the difference in speed. Plastic moves faster than U-shaped design.

“The device should work as an artificial shore line, picking up plastic, which is spinning in the middle of the ocean as well as the debris drifts ashore.” said chief operating officer Ocean Cleanup Lonneke Holierhoek.

Now width of one System 001 is 60 meters. Experts think, to increase its length to 70 metres, and, according to the New Atlas, it will look like to replace “the little kite on the big one.”

However, “to bury” the project is too early. The developers say that this was only the first test pattern and they were ready to such outcome, and at the moment they are engaged in the situation analysis and the development of improved versions. System 002 will have to be tested in 2020. A plan to launch 60 systems Ocean Cleanup and cleaning 90% junk spots by 2040 remains unchanged.

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