Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

'Giant Wind-and-Wave-Powered Pac Man' to Gobble Up Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Oceans

The Ocean Cleanup is preparing to launch its highly anticipated cleanup system in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But the contraption's final design looks slightly different from the original vision.

The non-profit organization, founded by 23-year-old Dutch inventor and entrepreneur Boyan Slat, aims to rid the world's oceans of plastic.


Five years ago, the then-teenager made headlines and inspired folks around the world for his ocean plastic-capturing concept.

Earlier prototypes, for instance, featured an anchored platform and a V-shaped floating barrier that passively corrals plastics with wind and ocean currents. But during testing, they realized they underestimated the impact of wind, waves and currents on the system.

After years of research and development, the Ocean Cleanup team announced a redesign of the system that features a 600-meter-long floating pipe with a tapered 3-meter skirt attached underneath to catch debris. The sea anchors were also eliminated entirely.

Slat described the new anchor-free system, set for deployment into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in two months, as "a giant wind-and-wave-powered Pac Man."

The Ocean Cleanup

"Both the plastic and system are being carried by the current," the nonprofit explains. "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."

The contraption is also fitted with solar-powered lights, anti-collision systems, sensors and cameras and satellite antennas, meaning it can communicate its position at all times.

The captured plastic will be collected by a vessel every few months. The debris will then be sorted for recycling or up-cycled to create new products.

"Although there is a fair chance this won't be the last iteration of our ocean cleanup technology, we have high confidence that it addresses the stability issues and that this will be the design responsible for collecting the first plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch later this year," Slat wrote.

Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
Trending
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less
The brown pelican is seen on Queen Bess Island in Louisiana in March 2021. Casey Wright / LDWF biologist

Who says you can't go home again?

Read More Show Less