Ocean Cleanup, a giant ocean garbage collector, prepares for its first launch

The Ocean Cleanup concept of a passive plastic waste collection system in the Pacific Ocean was born five years ago, and all this time there were discussions about the principles of its operation. Now, finally, the final design has been worked out. It will be tested in the fall and will be operational before the end of this year.

Ocean Cleanup was originally designed as a giant U-shaped net suspended from floats held steady by anchors. Then the anchors were replaced with floating cargo, which was lowered much below the sea level, about 600 m. This will allow the "scavenger" to drift slower than the garbage itself, but not be afraid of being torn apart by storms.

Modeling showed that with a certain combination of wind and currents, debris that is thrown into the neck of the net will bounce off the floats and fly out of the trap. To solve the problem, the net in the center of the trap was lowered to a depth of more than 3 m, and at the ends it was raised to the very surface. Debris will cram into the center and slow it down so that the entire structure does not move faster than the stream, but the edges can turn freely at high speed, at the behest of waves and wind. From the outside, it looks like the jaws of the game Pac-Man - what will bring inside will not come back.

As the scavenger nets fill up, the sensors signal to the collecting vessel, which overloads the collected garbage and transports it for recycling. The Ocean Cleanup system is good because it works in a passive mode and can be modular - that is, it can be of any size. It is planned that within five years fifty such structures will be deployed in all problem areas of the world's oceans.