Ocean Cleanup device breaks down, well before ridding Pacific of plastics

From NBCNEWS

Dutch inventor Boyan Slat said he still believed his $360 million plan could work.

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The Ocean Cleanup device floating in a lagoon in Alameda, California, in August 2018.The Ocean Cleanup via EPA

Jan. 4, 2019 / 4:24 AM EST

By James Rainey

An ambitious project to clean up a vast tide of ocean pollution has been sidelined. The project’s 2,000-foot-long screen — which was already failing to capture plastic while stationed more than 1,000 miles off the coast of California — broke apart just before New Year’s under the constant wind and waves of the Pacific Ocean.

The young Dutch inventor who conceived the Ocean Cleanup project, and hopes to one day deploy 60 of the devices to skim plastic debris off the surface of the ocean, said Thursday that he would not be deterred by the setback.

Boyan Slat said in a phone interview from his office in Rotterdam, Netherlands, that the screen would be towed about 800 miles to Hawaii. Once there, it will either be repaired or loaded onto a barge to return to its home port of Alameda, California.

“Of course there is slight disappointment, because we hoped to stay out there a bit longer to do more experiments and to….solve the [plastic] retention issue,” Slat said. “But there is no talk whatsoever about discouragement.

“This is an entirely new category of machine that is out there in extremely challenging conditions,” Slat added. “We always took into account that we might have to take it back and forth a few times. So it’s really not a significant departure from the original plan.”

 

Can this giant cleanup device save the ocean?

June 12, 201802:09

 

But a critic who has followed Slat’s project since he unveiled it more than five years ago said the failure was predictable and that systems deployed closer to shore stand a greater chance of slowing the deluge of plastics spilling into the world’s oceans.

“I certainly hope they will be able to get it to work, but this is a very difficult environment where equipment breaks, which is why you normally do things closer to shore, where things are easier to repair,” said Miriam Goldstein, director of ocean policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Oceanographers and environmentalists have been concerned with plastics pollution for years, but the issue gained broader public attention in 2018, with many jurisdictions banning plastic drinking straws, eating utensils and bags. The World Economic Forum has projected that the total of plastic debris in the oceans will outweigh all the world’s fish by 2050, if plastics disposal continues unabated.

Slat first came up with his audacious plan to clean the waste from the oceans as a teenager. Now, at 24, he has raised more than $40 million from tech entrepreneurs and thousands of donors. He oversees a staff of more than 80 engineers, oceanographers and others.

Image: Boyan SlatBoyan Slat poses during the unveiling of an Ocean Cleanup prototype in June 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands.Michel Porro / Getty Images file

The crew has designed a pipe-shaped plastic barrier that floats atop the ocean, with a 10-foot-tall screen of impermeable synthetic textile hanging beneath the surface. The device is designed to move with the wind and waves, fast enough that the U-shaped “array” will hold plastic — which can periodically be picked up and shipped away to recycling centers.

With an estimated cost of nearly $6 million per screen, a total of $360 million would be needed to operate 60 of the strainers for three years in the Pacific, the Ocean Cleanup project says.

But for now, Slat and his team need to get their prototype working.

Read the full story here
HT/Neo

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117 thoughts on “Ocean Cleanup device breaks down, well before ridding Pacific of plastics

  1. I really HOPE the entire project has been … crowd-funded … by Tesla-driving, 6-figure income, virtue-signaling, Silicon Valley Elites!! And I fervently pray some hardcore eco-leftist Venture Capitalists are currently writing-off this woefully under-thought contraption.

    Next; the young Dutch ‘genius’ will invent a “machine” to collect all the so-called micro plastics from every gallon of water in every ocean on the planet. That’s not much water to sieve is it? Crowd-funding has already started. Send your good wishes, hopes, and $$cash … you’ll f-e-e-l better about yourself when you do.

    • Perhaps nano plastics are a problem 1000 times worse. They can’t be detected and therefore there is no way to determine exactly how bad the problem is.

      • So “nano-plastics” – which cannot be seen (nor detected) – are a threat, eh?

        Why? If the nano-particles cannot be seen, they can be swallowed, processed like ALL other floating “stuff” that goes into a fish’s mouth and gut like ALL other food and non-food particles have been eaten and swallowed whole since fishes began swimming in the natural ocean waters. They will then be safely excreted like all the other “invisible” and “visible” dust and grit and debris and bones and sand and poop and algae and scales and coral and ….

    • I began following this when it began, and the ADULATION of this teen planet saver was extraordinary. I believe the first $20M came from a real DO-gooder type…I may have the article saved, will check, but I watched as this boy became “sustainable-world-teen-Jesus”, the cameras and press people filling entire ballrooms, glossy literature, yada yada. T-shirts and eco-bracelets of course. I knew it was an idiot design early on, now that I see the big seamed parts I have no doubt. AND there are several other young people with no funding doing clever, small scale, human-able plastic clean up more successfully. The grandiosity of the cult left elevating a smart kid has been entertaining to watch. Nobody is saving the poorest Philippine kids from walking on entire beaches of trash..not near as cool.

    • Definitely. Just how does the inventor propose to separate the sea life that is of a similar size as the plastic? As the plastic has broken down to millimeter size or smaller, it would require a rather small screen to catch the microplastic.

    • Well, no. The screen itself is impermeable as a feature of principle.

      And concerning the sea life that grows once debris collects inside the barrier: the biologists’ position is that the life that is destroyed there is a form of life that is “intrusive” in the original environment in the sense that it would not be there were it not for the synthetic stuff “humanity has put there”.

      Being skeptical about the “good intentions” of the eco-religious crowds, I warned him personally about that danger of condemnation upon achieving success and I got this reply.

      This information I have obtained first-hand since I myself have recently become involved in solving the capture and structural problems.

    • Yeah, let us see the screen design. Is it like baleen designed to separate out plankton?
      Why was that missing from the article?

  2. At least boyan is trying to do something positive rather than go all lefty and trying to ban plastics and telling us all how evil we are by using plastic. Good luck to him.

    • Still he is a lefty himself, they don’t give $40 million to right wingers who actually have the intelligence and ability to get the job done.

      • By calling him a plain “lefty”, I believe you are doing a disservice to him. From firsthand experience, I know his relentless enthusiasm and audaciousness starting from 11 years ago when he was a teenager. What he has done is amazing, even if it does benefit from the eco-religious cultural trend. Kudos and respect for that.

        Second, his own intellectual state is much better and reality-oriented than you would think. Listen to the interview by Joe Rogan. He has the guts to say on the radio that it is ‘plain stupid’ to condemn plastics as such.

        He does have intellectual integrity. What is now important is to feed him better information and viewpoints than mainstream sources and culture has provided him with. That process was started during the summer, the right questions were asked and he was receptive to new information.

        Now isn’t this a surprise?

        In the short term, fixing the barrier concept has the first priority though!

      • No.. people are “evil” by not using them responsibly.

        The actual use of plastics isn’t a problem, it;s what we do with them after we have finished with them.
        But rather than deal with that the knee-jerk reactions is “Ban all the things”

        • And that is the Core fact. A State or Nation should be required to process used plastics in-house to reusable industrial ingots. No farming outside of place of use. All Industrialized Nations. Eventually tell-tell signs of what-who-where-when-why will be evident.

          • Just burn it for energy, they spend more money and use more water trying to “recycle” it than it is worth.
            As hydrocarbon to generate energy it is worth money.
            As long as the flue removes anny bad particles and dioxines it is the thing to do.

          • “A State or Nation should be required…”

            By whom?
            What are the consequences if they refuse?
            Under what authority are those consequences defined?
            Who is going to enforce it?

            “There oughtta be a law” sounds great in theory…

  3. I wish him well. seriously.

    But the serious ocean plastics pollution problem is in SE Asia. China. Vietnam,. Indonesia. Thailand. The Philipines.
    Coastal California is nothing in comparison by all surveys. To do Cali is just milking investors while virtue signaling for Brownie points, while Asia gets a pass.

    • Joel,
      Just like electricity generation.
      Just taking a for ride at the expense of Asia.

      I am amazed the scheme is not working.
      It must be the first green scheme EVVAAAHHHH to have not worked!

    • I just left the Philippines for Thailand. I was appalled at the waste of things there as simple as plastic containers of Coke and fruit juice, as well as water. There is no deposit on such, and when done drinking a beverage, everyone just throw it on the ground. And then beggar kids come looking for a Peso or two. Cause they hungry. They could make a small living picking up these containers if they had a deposit. I am tempted to open a small stall buying back plastic garbage and see how long it takes to clean up a community.

      I think everyone can agree, whether skeptic or brain dead alarmist, that throwing our plastic garbage out in the road, river and ultimately out to sea is a zero sum proposition. Let’s try and influence some common sense where we can. I remember just a few short years ago, there was no deposit on hard liquor or wine bottles and the parks were full of broken glass. A deposit quickly cured that problem, but it took 100 years to implement. Paying a small price for return of plastics in the Third World would go a long way to reversing this problem. Even if we make park benches out of this worst plastic that cannot be readily separated or burn it for energy makes more sense than just throwing it on the ground where it washes out to sea sooner or later. Surely this isn’t rocket science to figure out, and why the hell doesn’t the Paris Accord deal with something as simple as this?

      • Look at California with it’s no plastic bags and yet along the highways there is plastic blowing everywhere. Just go upto a fence in the desert and it is covered with plastic. No littering along highways yet bottles all over the place. Charles Charles Reichert

      • Making a small living…not a bad idea. Does any of the NGO’s ever consider such an idea? Setting up a system to keep plastic out of the ocean by buying it? Something would go wrong since they can’t seem to get anything right, and the plastic would get dumped anyway.

        • Have to be done by a privatized interest on the ‘recycling’ end but would need a Govt mandate to start with a bottle/can deposit. Believe me, these kids that don’t know where their next meal is coming from would pick up every merchantable bottle and can before you could bat an eye. You would have to keep an eye on you can of coke until you drank it, cause it would be fair game. Now giving a plastic water bottle or empty can to a beggar kid wouldn’t really feel like charity, cause the kid still have to work to get the refund. Incentivize the commercial bottle/can market for recycling in the Third World and you would solve that problem over night. How you change the mind set of poor people not to litter, I don’t know. But they don’t have this problem in Singapore. Not even chewing gum on a park bench.

      • Because simple solutions are not what the environmental statists and bureaucrats are about. Simple solutions do not give those folks the power and control over people’s lives that they crave.

        But I wish this Dutch kid well. He IS looking for better and simpler solutions, which I hope he can apply in Asia, which is the main source of the problem. Banning plastic straws is so stupidly shortsighted.

  4. Why would they make it impermeable? It needs to allow water through while hanging onto the plastic. The plastic alone should keep the thing afloat.

  5. Money would be much better spent on trash disposal in Asia. Pick one except for China, and have a public campaign to discourage dumping in the Ocean AND a way for them to have dumps… or barges, etc. Got to go to the source…. otherwise your just a privately funded street-sweeper project with impossible job. But what do I know, I’m not a whip-smart youngun who’s been fed propaganda about the oceans and straws.

  6. Good effort and probably something learned. Technology isn’t always the best option to fix something that is broken. Changing attitudes to waste does help though. At least in developed countries. I’m in South Australia and our container deposit system has worked wonders in ensuring plastic and cardboard drinks containers do not end up on the streets and the into storm water. People I know in developng countries end up being overwhelmed by the problem of waste and find themselves caring but unable to do much. I compare Australian waters to Maldives, where my wife is from and our waters are substancially free of plastic litter compared to theirs. Despite the concern of citizens, they struggle to contain the endless litter.

    • It’s good that it’s not ending up in the ocean but a pity that the only plastics recycler in South Australia was forced into bankruptcy last year by the exorbitant Green power prices in that state, with the loss of about 30 jobs. I believe all “recycled” plastic collected in SA is now dumped in local landfill as it was not economic to transport it interstate to actually recycle it. Feel free to correct me if you have solid info to the contrary.

      As to the ocean skimmer – feelgood solutions rarely work when they crash into reality.

        • I’m not from there. South Australian governments prefer to burn tax money supplied by the other states to maintain the illusion of SA Greenness. They quietly installed half a dozen diesel turbine generators to keep the lights on when the wind stops. From memory each chews through 2 semi trailers of diesel per day.

    • Patrick,
      You are a really brave man to admit that you come from S Australia – the state with AUS$0.41/kWH electricity.
      S Australia has had 10 cents per container deposit for several decades and the litter problem in S Australia is NO DIFFERENT to the other states which have not had 10 cent deposits on drink containers. I am afraid I cannot agree that the S Australian system has “worked wonders”. I have lived in 5 Australian states, including S Australia, and the only wonder is why anyone stays in S Australia.

      • New South Wales now has a refund on bottles and I constantly see the same person rummaging around in the bin farms around blocks of apartments just before collection day.

  7. The vast majority of plastic waste is dumped into rivers. Most of that into 10 large rivers in Asia and Africa. The so-called”Pacific Garbage Patch” is so diffuse that an eco-expedition sailed right through it and found virtually nothing. This guy’s chasing the horse after it’s bolted. Read Patrick Moore on Twitter.

    • Tony Price

      I read the same thing about the eco-expedition and believe it has been repeated, still with no success.

      Not that this clean up project worked even before it broke. From memory, it seems the ‘plastic’ was being driven along faster than the boom could travel.

      • Hot Scot,
        The idea is that their mode of development is trial and error.

        For better or for worse, this means that you are looking at a development model. Another philosophy would put more engineering sophistication into it, but it would perhaps never come from the ground due to up-front cost. No doubt there is some optimum in that. I know for sure 🙂 that now some good experienced engineering professionals will help them in the upcoming months to fix the problems even when this involves doing a complete redesign.

        It must be said that the surface of the ocean involves some very hard physics (fluid flow) where we have an atmospheric boundary layer on a wavy surface, an ocean boundary layer driven by the instationary winds over a wavy surface and on top of that a barrier with lagoon features.

        The challenge lies in understanding all this to a sufficient level that the barrier design may be improved, e.g. by making it drift faster (look out for a wind-boosted version) or tuning the shape of its skirt, to name some obvious possibilities.

        • Please,please- “trial and error” has such an amateurish connotation. The term “Edisonian approach” is the more preferred description.

    • “Is it made of plastic?”
      Why yes, it appears that it IS made of plastic.

      Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

      HAR!

  8. Plastic is a temporary problem. We paint ships with poison because marine life grows on just about everything. Including plastic.

    much of this life is made mostly from co2 and is heavier than water. As it builds up on the plastic the plastic sinks to the ocean floor where it becomes buried by the continual rain of mud from above.

    So in effect co2 is cleaning the oceans of plastic.

    • Plus, most plastics used in bottles, packaging, and rope (High Density Polyethylene, Low Density Polyethylene, and Polypropylene) float and are prone to UV degradation. Sunlight will eventually destroy the floating plastic waste in the oceans.

      The main thing we need to do is stop using the oceans as a garbage dump.

      • Louis Hooffstetter

        It seems most of the spilt oil from the Deepwater Horizon has been eaten by microbes the ‘experts’ didn’t know existed.

        I don’t like the idea of plastic waste in the oceans, but for God’s sake, spend the money wasted on this contraption on stopping dumping, not dealing with the fallout.

        • Hot Scott…. “eaten by microbes the ‘experts’ didn’t know existed.”

          A minor clarification. I worked in the Valdez oil trade on a tanker. So. I followed the story. It turned out that the beaches that weren’t “cleaned” recovered rapidly when the microbes ate the oil. The beaches that were “cleaned” with chemicals and steam had been sterilized and took longer to recover.

          I knew this at the time of the Deep Water Horizon spill and I told people at the time not to worry about it. “The bugs will eat it all”.

          So, experts knew about it. “Experts” did not.

          I mentioned this to a young fellow not long ago. Horse puckey, he said. What about the crude oil on the Santa Barbara, CA, beaches? Well, oil has been naturally seeping offshore for millennia. Why aren’t the beaches covered in feet of oil?

          The bugs ate it!

  9. The money would be better spent supplying collectable rubbish containers (and infrastructure to collect and dispose, plus related education programs) at jetties and in river-based villages in countries like Indonesia, where it is standard practice to wheel a rubbish filled barrow to the water edge and tip it in.

  10. Put a screen in the Asian and south American rivers from where the most plastic debris come from.
    And make use of the plastic once more.

  11. Stop worrying about CO2 and incinerate plastics as a co-fuel in pulverized fuel furnaces for power generation.

    The CO2 bogyman make for stupid policy making.

    • Hi Ken, hammer, nail, head.

      In Norway, we have the same deposit on bottles that Patrick Ernst mentioned exists in South Aus in a comment above (which I remember being in place back when I grew up in SA).
      Whether or not that materially affects consumer’s behaviour vis-a-vis recycling bottles is interesting, but in Norway a large majority of the population believes themselves to be squeaky clean because there are so many electric cars here, most electricity comes from hydro-electric schemes and there is a widespread presence of recycling bins. there are usually three bins at each community recycling drop-off, ‘soft’ plastic domestic waste goes in one bin, glass and metal in another and usually there is a clothes and textiles bin alongside. People sleep well at night convinced they’ve ‘done their bit’ for the environment by going to the trouble of labourisously separating their domestic rubbish, putting it into plastic bags and then driving to the nearest community recycling point to ‘recycle’ their crap once a week.
      Of course what happens next is a council truck comes around to collect it and transport it to a central recycling depot, according to the EU, this is the point where plastic is recorded as ‘recycled’. Once ‘recycled’ (collected) some work-for-the-dole council workers and some clever machines use time and energy sorting the waste. After sorting, domestic plastic waste is only fit to ‘re-use’ in more or less value-less products, so in Norway, that worthless ‘recycled’ plastic ends up in the back of a truck along with all the unsortable garbage which is driven over the border to Sweden where the waste is burned to produce electricity and district heating.
      Over in Japan this process has been refined to the point where sewage sludge can be usefully burned as fuel for power/heating – unlike here in squeaky-clean Norway where domsetic sewage from coastal cities evidently finds its way to the depths of the nearest fjord where it’s deeply out of sight and out of mind.

      Waste to power makes a lot more sense than labouring under the illusion that a ‘circular economy’ actually works, but don’t try telling any progressive European voters about it because burning plastic emits CO2, oh me, oh my!

      In order to save the world from gullible warming, the bureautards in the EU are doing their level best to legislate waste combustion power out of business; which means all that useless ‘recycled’ plastic will simply be loaded onto empty container ships returning to Asia (to reload with throw away consumer trinkets like iPhones and selfie sticks) and it will end up on landfill in Asian river estuaries. If indeed the worthless cargo of ‘recycled’ plastic isn’t simply thrown over the side en-route to save fuel.

      Asa side-note, there is a waste to power plant in Oslo who are currently bleating to any journalist in sight about their intention to capture CO2, which will make them totally ‘clean’. That is once the government coughs up the money to pay for it and once they figure out how to deal with the ‘squeaky clean’ neighbours who are objecting to this ‘climate’ initiative because the idea of a CO2 pipeline running through their neighbourhood is a bigger problem for them than the gullible warming they’ll be saving us from. I’m not sure what the Norwegian word for ‘hypocrite’ is.

      In fairness to the young, slick, snake oil salesman in this story, a small thermal power plant which burns municipal waste isn’t as sexy as a useless big floating fish net, so it’s harder to separate ‘progressive’ fools from their money to crowd source an idea that actually works.

    • Hi Ken,

      Hammer. Nail. Head.

      In Norway, we have the same deposit on bottles that Patrick Ernst mentioned exists in South Aus in a comment above (which I remember being in place back when I grew up in SA).
      Whether or not that materially affects consumer’s behaviour vis-a-vis recycling bottles is interesting, but in Norway a large majority of the population believes themselves to be squeaky clean because there are so many electric cars here, most electricity comes from hydro-electric schemes and there is a widespread presence of recycling bins. there are usually three bins at each community recycling drop-off, ‘soft’ plastic domestic waste goes in one bin, glass and metal in another and usually there is a clothes and textiles bin alongside. People sleep well at night convinced they’ve ‘done their bit’ for the environment by going to the trouble of labourisously separating their domestic rubbish, putting it into plastic bags and then driving to the nearest community recycling point to ‘recycle’ their crap once a week.
      Of course what happens next is a council truck comes around to collect it and transport it to a central recycling depot, according to the EU, this is the point where plastic is recorded as ‘recycled’. Once ‘recycled’ (collected) some work-for-the-dole council workers and some clever machines use time and energy sorting the waste. After sorting, domestic plastic waste is only fit to ‘re-use’ in more or less value-less products, so in Norway, that worthless ‘recycled’ plastic ends up in the back of a truck along with all the unsortable garbage which is driven over the border to Sweden where the waste is burned to produce electricity and district heating.
      Over in Japan this process has been refined to the point where sewage sludge can be usefully burned as fuel for power/heating – unlike here in squeaky-clean Norway where domsetic sewage from coastal cities evidently finds its way to the depths of the nearest fjord where it’s deeply out of sight and out of mind.

      Waste to power makes a lot more sense than labouring under the illusion that a ‘circular economy’ actually works, but don’t try telling any progressive European voters about it because burning plastic emits CO2, oh me, oh my!

      In order to save the world from gullible warming, the bureautards in the EU are doing their level best to legislate waste combustion power out of business; which means all that useless ‘recycled’ plastic will simply be loaded onto empty container ships returning to Asia (to reload with throw away consumer trinkets like iPhones and selfie sticks) and it will end up on landfill in Asian river estuaries. If indeed the worthless cargo of ‘recycled’ plastic isn’t simply thrown over the side en-route to save fuel.

      Asa side-note, there is a waste to power plant in Oslo who are currently bleating to any journalist in sight about their intention to capture CO2, which will make them totally ‘clean’. That is once the government coughs up the money to pay for it and once they figure out how to deal with the ‘squeaky clean’ neighbours who are objecting to this ‘climate’ initiative because the idea of a CO2 pipeline running through their neighbourhood is a bigger problem for them than the gullible warming they’ll be saving us from. I’m not sure what the Norwegian word for ‘hypocrit’ is.

      In fairness to the young,slick,snake-oil salseman here, a small thermal power plant which burns municipal waste isn’t as sexy as a useless big floating fish net, so it’s harder to separate ‘progressive’ fools from their money to crowd source an idea that actually works.

      P.S. Mods, sorry if this is a repeated comment, the first attempt seems to have disappeared into the aether

  12. Anything goes as long as there are tax-deductible green donations loopholes and enough surface to display free massive media coverage of sponsors.

  13. Suppose this plastic vacuum cleaner is 1 mile wide moving at 1 mile per hour, then it would clear 1 sq mile per hour or 360*24 = 8640 sq miles per year. Area of oceans is 4*3.14* 4000^2 = > 100 million square miles so it will take > 10,000 years for the clean-up. What a hopeless and useless idea.

      • Concentrated? Have you seen the report of an actual proper research in one of these gyres? 106 tiny little pieces of plastic was all they collected. So I’m not sure what this invention is supposed to achieve.

      • They are called “gyres” to evoke visions of whirlpools and foam circling a plug hole. The oceans have no plug hole. There will be no relative motion and concentration unless forced such as floating debris driven by a wind against an obstacle, such as a $6M boom, and even then the boom will tend to be also wind driven. Submerged debris will drift with the water forever.
        Myself, I’d be experimenting with floating skimmer boxes, or modular incinerators at source producing power if economic.

        • William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

          THE SECOND COMING

          Turning and turning in the widening gyre
          The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
          Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
          Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
          The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
          The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
          Are full of passionate intensity.

    • But , but (sobbing and wringing hands) you have to do something!!! its far better to do an expensive and useless activities and be seen to be doing something.

    • Their idea is that it would be commercially feasible: defining the “patches” to contain > 1 kg/m2 (up to a 100 or more) of floating stuff, with the bigger items constituting roughly 80% of the mass.
      Of course, the recycled plastic then is itself “upgraded” and worth anything anybody would give as soon as it is actually technically feasible to be recycled (as a % of fresh virgin polymer of course).

  14. A simple fisherman’s net would be simpler and cheaper.

    Besides, has anyone ever seen this raft of plastic, or is it a tall fisherman’s tale?

    R

    • They do exist, and there are photos, though the extent is less than we are led to believe. It is what ocean currents and wind naturally combine to do. You can see small examples of it inshore around your own coast.

    • Most pictures of the plastic waste are taken after a typhoon has blown the top two inches off a Philippine Island.

  15. In what way is this an invention? What is so original in the design that will be making this lad so rich, even if it doesn’t work?

    Collecting from areas where there are large concentrations of visible, floating plastic seems feasible, using existing and tested technology. Trawling the ocean as a whole doesn’t look worthwhile.

  16. Wave powered “ducks” were going to be the way of the future for renewable power. Each time they were built, storms destroyed them. Lessons of the 70s and 80s not learnt.

    • Philip

      If you are talking of the salter duck beloved of tomorrows world, the duck was a good device capable of being a mainstay of renewable wave energy.it wad side-lined due to a catastrophic inability of the UK govt to calculate the costs correctly. As a result they wildly overpriced the cost of the devices and switched development to solar and wind.

      Tonyb

  17. The first thing to do (in UK, EU, USA etc ) is to ban the export of plastic waste to third world countries.
    The next thing to do is to construct proper energy from waste incinerators and ensure they are properly managed.
    The next thing to do is to encourage third world countries to do the same.
    After that, hold to account all the greenie activists that have long prevented step two above.
    I pay high local taxes and am forced to ‘properly recycle’ a number of lines of waste, for which there is no practical economic use.
    This is a blatant waste of my time and taxes so a few people can virtue signal.
    So finish off by holding to account the virtue signalling ‘elite’ who promote the ‘zero waste ‘ drivel.

    • I used to wonder where all the plastic waste originated that can be found in the oxbows and elbows of Quinnipiac River in Connecticut. After putting two open containers of recyclables at the curb a couple of weeks ago, a strong wind developed overnight. In the morning, my question was answered, as the entire town’s plastic waste was now scattered everywhere. But we did feel virtuous as we collected it and brought it to the curb, so that counts for something.

    • Hey! Doncha getit?
      You want the marine life to grew and encrust said impermeable synthetic textile until the added weight causes it to sink! The marine life will continue to digest it on the way down.
      Problem solved.

  18. Joins a long list of failed marine green/renewables projects that have fallen flat through underestimating the environment. About the only one I can think of is/was Sea Shepherd , where regardless of what you thought of the mission, they knew what they were doing. My personal fav is The Ship of Fools, it doesnt get much better than warmists propaganda generators getting stuck in ice.

    Its almost as if they are disconnected from the real world environment ……. oh wait

  19. During my time in Vietnam, I became used to watching the locals take all their trash down to the beach and throw it into the ocean. By the end of the day, the entire shoreline was a stream of trash.
    So seems to me if they could be taught, at the very least, to just pile it up and burn it, then a large part of the problem would be solved.
    Too simple?

  20. It may be the appropriate time to remind everyone of the basic Green Left strategy for redistribution of wealth.
    The first rule is, find an issue that does not actually exist, then demand the world spends fortunes trying to resolve that imaginary issue. If at any time an idea is presented that might illuminate, or worse still resolve the fictitious problem, it must be avoided at all cost.
    This latest white elephant solution presented by the young Dutch man was always perfect for the Greens. It could never work, which was always their desired outcome. The next step is to demand more money to trap even less of the non existent problem. A perfect option for the Californian political class.

  21. Idiots learn the hard way that 1 cubic meter of water weighs 1 metric ton. If a one meter wave slams at your concoction, it will be in trouble if not designed properly.

  22. The World Economic Forum has projected that the total of plastic debris in the oceans will outweigh all the world’s fish by 2050, if plastics disposal continues unabated:

    – The same as with oil spills / Deep Water Horizon: give them bacteria enough plastic and they will master the challenge.

    – since plastic is made of HYDROCARBONS.

  23. If we achieve a breakthrough in the LENR area, it will have enough cheap energy to operate the entire army of automated structures at sea and landfill sites, which collect and burn the garbage to achieve at least a positive balance in the short term.

  24. I think that it will be a good thing to have some regulations on pollution. UN stopped emptying spill oil into oceans in 1972. This was after Tor Heyerdahl had observed pollution on his Ra-expedition, and that the problems had increased over 15 years after the Kon-Tiki expedition in 1994.
    Now we know that wales swallow great amounts of plastic, and that it probably can get deadly.
    “Viewed from space, the Earth looks like a blue marble. Its oceans are, far and away, its defining visual characteristic. They are home to the largest animals that have ever lived: whales. Some whale species favour surface waters, while other dive to extraordinary depths. The deepest diver of all is Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, a species which dives so deeply, in fact, that it is rarely ever seen by humans, except when the occasional individual beaches itself or a corpse is washed ashore.
    One of the most recent live strandings of this near-mythical creature occurred in January 2017 on the island of Sotra, close to the city of Bergen, on the southwestern coast of Norway. The whale was still clinging to life when discovered, but it was in very poor health and suffering greatly. After several unsuccessful attempts to coax it back out to sea failed, the difficult decision was made to put the poor creature out of its misery.
    The whale’s sad death gave scientists and marine researchers an unprecedented opportunity to try to work out what exactly had happened to this Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. A post-mortem was carried out, and the reason for the whale’s distress soon became horrifyingly apparent. In its stomach were found at least 30 plastic bags. With so much undigestible plastic clogging its digestive tract, the whale had little room left for food. It was slowly, painfully starving to death when it ran aground. It could not have survived.”
    https://www.rte.ie/lifestyle/nature/2018/0917/994366-the-bergen-whale/

  25. An ambitious project to clean up a vast tide of ocean pollution has been sidelined.

    I never see any actual photographs of this “vast tide”, only some individual locations/beaches where ocean currents coupled with the wind and the waves concentrates flotsam and jetsam to such an extent that it becomes obvious to the human eye.

    And when you turn over these pieces of plastic, or look inside the bottles, you will often see, not a dead Albatross, but lots of small living creatures that have made a home there. Plastic litter may be unsightly to delicate Western eyes, but i suspect the main harm it causes is giving environmentalists and the BBC an attack of the vapors. If it was so bad, you find so many seagulls living on rubbish tips.

    • If you want the green army to grow, the stories of dead animals is the best way. And it is stories that sell. So just face it. There are some problems.

    • And I think one of the best ways to meet the plastic problem, is to have international rules of packaging. Perhaps it is possible to have plasic package that dissolves in nature during 4 – 5 years, and that gives less micro-plastic.

      • As a synthetic organic chemist, I would be more than happy to help design such materials.
        Unfortunately it seems much more popular these days to forever spend lots of money on people who know nothing useful at all, but forever just tell us “We’re doomed, I tell you. Dooooomed.”

  26. How could even 500 if these things make an impact? If all these plastics are originating from a few dozen major rivers, how about clean up ships or devices stationed near the mouth of rivers before it has started to deteriorate?

  27. They don’t they mandate slow release Fe in the plastic so at least the oceans would suck up lots of CO2 by promoting algae growth as the plastics degrade.

  28. The US has tens of thousands of local, state and federal mandated recycle centers and land fills that have become self funded with their services. For decades, grinding up used plastics for reuse in virgin plastics has created many jobs and local tax relief funding. Twice a month I park our recycle bin next to the curb for paper and plastic pick up. I remember our family recycling items during the Korean War. I have seen old films of the US of A recycling during WWII. So, recy isn’t new to us. Maybe the rest of the Asian World needs to wake up and get their act together.

  29. “He oversees a staff of more than 80 engineers, oceanographers and others.”

    Apparently no competent engineers on his staff. Not my specific area, but I could have predicted the waves and wind in the open ocean would tear the 600 meter long floating plastic pipe apart in the first moderate storm it encountered. Let’s hope that when they finally prove to themselves that this is a failure, they responsibly dispose of the contraption.

    • There is a massive difference between people formally educated and degree graduated as ‘Engineers’, and people who invent a new, more impressive title.

      Formerly janitor, new title is waste engineer or maintenance engineer.

      Calling them engineers and paying them as engineers does not mean they are degreed qualified ‘Engineers’.

  30. I follow several people who sail across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are all very conscious of plastic pollution and other forms of water pollution. There is very little plastic waste on the beaches of the Eastern Pacific north of Central America. Indonesia is covered in it. Some countries have public refuse collection systems and landfills. Those that do not treat the rivers and ocean as their waste receptacles. He would do more good just making one that could filter the effluent from a river in Asia. Maybe I should design a small generating station that burns plastic. This would be a win-win.

  31. Only in a progressive elitist world could people be this foolish.

    A) Assume that a young person has a better idea than everybody else, for all eternity.

    B) Fund the silly person gobsmacking levels of funds.

    C) Apparently fail to research history, competing ideas, etc.

    Tourists used to travel to Mexico to watch native fishermen fish with skimmer nets from their boats.
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5pw-UhfU748/SpLb6B_z_qI/AAAAAAAAE1Q/j_MEgR_Lkoo/s400/Mexico.jpg

    Catch a lot? Lift the net so the catch can move into the net’s cod end.
    https://tse4.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.7-5B6WMA1snGZgD33nWnmAHaE4&pid=Api

    Gulf of Mexico shrimpers catch shrimp by towing otter nets near the bottom of the Gulf, catching shrimp, bycatch (including turtles and young preferred commercial fish), and bottom obstructions like sunken boats.

    Or shrimpers can work nights instead and fish skimmer nets. Outside of using nets far larger than Mexico’s solo butterfly nets, these shrimpers targeted shrimp that rise to the surface at night. Almost eliminating bycatch problems; which means that the shrimpers need not use a thick brine to sort trash bycatch from profitable shrimp.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZwtnlOAnLE4/UgfGofHHlaI/AAAAAAAATJQ/PuD0t1dPOgI/s1600/1w+shrimp+boat.JPG

    Just like Mexico’s butterfly net fishermen, commercial shrimper skimmer nets move the caught shrimp to a cod end so shrimping can continue without interruptions.
    Depth of the net’s capture zone is adjustable. Making adapting this fishing process to catching plastic easy.

    That is, if there is a genuine need to catch that plastic.
    Given how governments work, that plastic will be sold to the lowest bidder for disposal. And therein lies the cycle where the same miscreants earning money from “disposing plastic” will happily dump the exact same plastic as long as the governments pay them.

    Making everyone involved in this charade:
    https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/girl-with-butterfly-net-picture-id103959777?s=612×612

  32. Another comment regarding this foolish project and the funds gathered.

    $360,000,000 spent.
    1% or even 0.5% reserved as the inventor’s salary.
    $360,000,000 multiplied by 0.01 equals $3,600,000.
    $360,000,000 multiplied by 0.005 equals $1,800,000

    That kid is laughing all of the way to the bank, whether or not his Rube Goldberg invention ever works.

    Plus, this kid knows where to go and what to say/do, to get similar amounts in the future.

  33. Plastic pieces floating in the ocean are colonised by a large number of marine species.
    Is it possible that the amount of marine life would actually decrease if all floating debris was removed from the ocean ?

  34. How did this scam artist somehow get 80 engineers under him for this kind of scheme? Calling him an “inventor” is absurd. It’s not that complicated. It’s a boom with a weighted tail. I literally have a half-dozen of them at work for cleanups.

    However, anyone with half a brain can see that this won’t hold up very long. It’s way too big, so much that ocean currents are going to be hitting it like a hurricane. Even in a pond or ditch, they don’t hold up very long (which is why I have so many). There is no way that in open ocean, you are going to capture enough plastic to be anywhere near the expense and effort of cleaning it up

  35. “With an estimated cost of nearly $6 million per screen, a total of $360 million would be needed to operate 60 of the strainers for three years in the Pacific, the Ocean Cleanup project says.”

    2000 ft long, 60 of them would be 22.73 miles long. Pacific Ocean surface area of 63.78 million square miles.

    So divide the area by the length and we get 2.8 million miles. And we are going to cover that distance in 3 years. Say we only do half the ocean. Fine, that means this thing is going to sail along at ~50 knots 24/7 for three years straight to cover half the pacific ocean. And catch garbage along the way and unload and dispose of it somehow.

    Sure, absolutely. I think we ought to give everybody a butterfly net and have them go for a swim. How about that? Is that a good idea? At least as good as this one?

  36. It’s way too soon to write off his efforts. The idea of an inflatable boom and a skimming net makes sense. People want to try something to clean up concentrated patches in the ocean. If your first prototype doesn’t break, how do you know you haven’t over-engineered it?

  37. I don’t understand some of the venom and ridicule being flung at this guy. At least he is trying to do something about the problem.

    • He has the enthusiasm of youth and shouldn’t be faulted for it. He saw what he perceived to be a problem and instead of wailing and gnashing his teeth, he tried to fix it. There is a question as to the mechanical robustness of his gear, but that’s what R&D is all about. How many times did the Redstone rocket crap out on launch in its various incarnations?

      As no tax dollars appear to have been obliterated in support of this effort, I wish him and his supporters “bonne chance”. You never know where his work may lead; it could spawn something useful yet.

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