The Ocean Cleanup Returns to the Ocean after Modernization

The Ocean Cleanup project was ceremoniously launched into the waters of the Pacific Ocean in mid-autumn last year, but it worked for a few months. In January 2019, it was pulled out for repairs, which dragged on and turned into a full-scale modernization of the barrier. Now the updated installation returns to the ocean and, after the tests, will be directed towards the Great Garbage Patch.

The main problem of the first version of the barrier was that the developers could not comply with the high-speed mode of movement of the networks. It turned out that the speed of the flow of water and the light plastic carried by it are different dynamic quantities. The barrier has no motors, it is a passive design that needed modernization. As a result, we came to an intermediate conclusion: it is not so important whether the barrier moves faster than the flow of debris or slower, the main thing is the stability of movement.

The new design has two versions to be tested. In the first case, the open side of the barrier is equipped with huge buoys that will serve as sails and accelerate the movement of the structure. In the second, on the contrary, a water sail in the form of a cone with a diameter of 20 m will be used, which will slow down the barrier if it is driven by the wind too quickly.

The developers of the project do not yet know which option will perform better in an unpredictable ocean environment. And so they reduced the size of the barrier by three times, making it a prefabricated modular structure. This will allow, if necessary, to repair it directly at sea, without pulling a huge structure ashore. It is assumed that a flotilla of 60 such barriers will be able to pass all 1.6 million square meters in 5 years. km of garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean and fish out as much plastic as possible.

The first version of Ocean Cleanup