With millions of dollars in backing, some from tech giants, the brainchild of a 23-year-old Dutch college dropout steamed out to sea Saturday afternoon, ready to take on the seemingly overwhelming problem of plastic pollution in the oceans.
The hope is that the vessel, the first of a planned fleet or 60 or more, can strain out the millions of pounds of plastic trash that collects in slow-moving ocean whirlpools called gyres, which can be hundreds of miles across.
The ungainly vessel starts out as a long line of linked floating booms – 2,000 feet of them – towed out from the dockyard where it’s been built in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco. It will motor under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to a testing area about 275 miles off the coast of California.
Once in place, the Ocean Cleanup, dubbed System 001, is deployed. The passive system’s floating series of connected booms naturally form into a broad U-shape. Below the booms, a 9-foot skirt gently corrals the plastic trash that contaminates our seas.
Currents and waves push trash into the machine’s center to collect it. Floating particles are captured by the net while the push of water against the net propels fish and other marine life under and beyond.
A garbage ship then is sent out to scoop up the collected trash and transport it to shore for recycling.
The system is fitted with solar-powered lights and anti-collision systems to keep any stray ships from running into it, along with cameras, sensors and satellites that allow it to communicate with its creators.
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Source: USA Today