Boyan Slat has designed this device to clean up the plastic in the ocean.

Its design is inspired by the manta ray.

It’s a massive array floating in the ocean.

Ships are fastened to the floor, connected by booms that re-direct debris to the center. The current of the ocean moves the plastic past the ships, which collect it.

2013-04-16

An Enormous Floating Array For Cleaning Up The Ocean, Designed By A College Kid

Instead of scouring the ocean for debris, this device uses the ocean to collect the trash.

The problem of marine plastic pollution is not only big, it’s a tough nut to crack. Roiled by the ocean, plastic breaks down into many tiny fragments, including a sort of soup.

We’ve written about potential fixes—including this European Union-funded scheme involving fishermen. But repurposing fisher trawlers seems to be a bit small-bore, lacking in the necessary sort of industrial scale to really tackle the problem.

Boyan Slat is thinking big about the cleanup. His idea is a massive array floating in the ocean: Ships fastened to the floor, connected by booms that re-direct debris to the center. "Why move through the oceans, if the ocean can move through you?" he says in this video from last year’s TEDx event in Delft. "By letting the rotating current do their work, vast amounts [of] funds, manpower, and emissions will be saved." Shaped like a manta ray, he says 24 zig-zag arrays could clean an entire ocean, and could be self-funding from selling off the plastic. Watch him here:

In an email, Slat says a lot of testing is needed yet. "It’s not our intention to already be known as 'the solution,' even before we’ve proven its feasibility." Still, it looks like an interesting concept.

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