Boyan Slat: Ocean Cleanup

Key concepts:

• passive system
• rely on ocean currents, rather than external energy sources
• use buoyant floaters and screens to catch & concentrate plastic
• continuous system improvement, rather than single deployment

Ocean Cleanup : harnessing natural ocean currents

Ocean Cleanup has developed a passive system that relies on natural ocean currents rather than external energy sources to capture small plastic from 1 cm to massive fishing ghost nets. The removal of large plastic parts prevent it from breaking down into microplastics.

At the age of sixteen, when Boyan Slat was diving, he saw large amounts of plastic in the ocean. At that moment he decided that addressing the ocean plastic challenge would be his life’s work.
Five years later, at age 23, Boyan Slat delivered the talk below in May 2017 — a talk not only about the specific challenge of removing plastic from the ocean but also a fascinating description of his team’s creative process and how the team continually ran tests and sought ways to simplify the plan until they had an elegant, modular, reduced cost solution.

Ocean Cleanup optimistically estimates that, with a combination of ocean cleanup and source reduction on land earth, Earth could have a plastic free ocean by 2050, a huge revision to the World Economic Forum prediction that by 2050 there would be as much plastic in the ocean as fish. Working with several offshore companies and institutes, they expect their first operational cleanup system to be deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by mid-2018. Their floater technology aims to remove debris in the easiest possible way. Die Welt has an excellent article covering Boyan Slat’s plan.

An earlier version of their system involved a buoyant floater and a screen to catch and concentrate ocean plastic debris, using algorithms to specify optimal locations in the gyre for autonomous roaming. Electronics used are solar powered. Full upfront financing is avoided by gradually adding systems to the gyre, allowing continuous system improvement.

The 2017 talk above shows how far he’s come in the five years since the impressive launch
of his big idea at age 18 in 2012.


Related Topics:  Saving Our Oceans from Plastic



Comments are closed.