The Ocean Cleanup unveils first prototype

The Ocean Cleanup which is a Dutch foundation working on advanced technologies to get rid off the plastic from oceans, intends to put it’s first prototype in the sea for testing. The prototype which is the first ocean cleanup system ever tested will be installed in the North Sea, 23 km (12 NM) off the Dutch coast, where it will remain for one year.

Ocean cleanup

The Ocean cleanup prototype which is a 100 meter-long barrier segment will be deployed in the North Sea to help validate the survivability of the system. Sensors in it will track every motion of the prototype and the loads it is subjected to in extreme weather at sea. The data gathered will enable engineers to develop a system fully resistant to severe conditions during the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. At the North Sea test site, conditions during a minor storm are said to be more severe than those in heavy storms in the Pacific Ocean. The long floating barriers act as an artificial coastline, passively catching and concentrating ocean debris and is powered by the ocean’s natural currents.

Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup, said “This is a historic day on the path toward clean oceans. A successful outcome of this test should put us on track to deploy the first operational pilot system in late 2017.”  He also notes that a successful test does not necessarily mean the prototype will survive. “I estimate there is a 30% chance the system will break, but either way it will be a good test.”

Some researchers however warn that a massive barrier like this could mess with the distribution of animals in the region. Also this barrier only helps in collecting surface garbage and not the ones lying deep down the oceans.

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