An ambitious project to clean up the ocean failed miserably

An ambitious project to clean up the ocean failed miserably

Startup Ocean Cleanup is going once and for all rid the oceans from plastic pollution by using simple and cheap devices. Alas, in practice this idea proved to be unsustainable.


Currently, the oceans pollute hundreds of millions of tons of plastic waste, and in the near future this situation will not get better. Alas, one of the largest and most ambitious projects to clean up the ocean failed. At the stage of testing it became clear that the system was not able to collect any significant amount of debris.

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In early September, 2018 the cargo ship went to the region known as the Pacific garbage area — the place where sooner or later it turns out most of the rubbish dumped in the Pacific ocean. That’s where the startup Ocean Cleanup was about to begin his mission to clean water.

Recall that the basic idea was to place in the ocean, a network of floating tubes, which are fixed under a special grid for garbage collection. The plastic fragments just going to sit in them, and then will only have to remove the chain, clean her up and submerge again. In practice, however, it was found that the lattice does not delay the garbage, and he continues to freely drift in the water. The startup engineers are still not sure why this is happening.

The project is based on the assumption that the wind and current will move the bars on the water — apparently, the design still makes it fast enough. Another possible reason for the failure is called to the fact that the points of the lattice is rather short and while the vibrations are not collected, but merely push debris. If so, then the problem lies in the simple extension of the build system.

In any case, the dream of pure water will have some time to shelve. Only consolation is the fact that currently, many independent companies are developing similar projects, and other engineers have every chance to develop a more practical system.