The Ocean Cleaning of rivers Foundation was founded by a young Dutch boy, and after collecting several million donations, launched several giant Autonomous solar-powered pontoons that collect plastic floating near the surface of the water. The project had a lot of critics, mostly saying that even such a system can not clean the ocean. Especially if several million new tons of garbage arrive every year.
Now Bojan Slat, the young inventor and head of the Foundation, will address this problem as well. Ocean Cleanup teams up with government organizations, nonprofit foundations, and mayors to clean up the most polluted rivers in the Metropolitan areas. To do this, the other day in the Netherlands was presented their new Autonomous unit – The Interceptor.
The path of the “world cleaner” for Bojan Slat began in 2012. Then at the TEDx conference, he first proposed building a series of Autonomous structures that would allow the oceans to gradually, year after year, clean themselves. And a person would only have to periodically drive up and pick up the collected garbage for recycling. After this performance, Slat dropped out of school and founded Ocean Cleanup. The first $90 thousand for the start of the project he raised through crowdfunding, another $100 thousand brought a grant from the founder of PayPal Peter Thiel. In 2013, at the age of 18, Slat began to prepare for the implementation of his idea.
2 years later, a team of volunteers, including about a hundred engineers and oceanographers, prepared a report for the Foundation on plastic in the ocean. Ocean Cleanup launched its second fundraising campaign, which raised $2.2 million. in the end, Boyan Slat and a thousand volunteers built a floating system for $25 million from the original design in the form of a huge Stingray presented at TEDx in 2012, almost nothing remained Cleaning of rivers . The system has become much simpler-solar panels, sensors and GPS on pontoons assembled in the form of a large arc. Under the pontoons – a long “skirt” that collects plastic, under which fish and other sea creatures can move freely.
System 001, codenamed “Wilson”, was launched to the ocean at the end of 2018, in the area of the Great Pacific garbage patch. Since then, she has had to face a number of troubles. It was hit by abandoned fishing nets, some debris was returned back to the ocean, and in January 2019, a breach was discovered and it had to be towed to Hawaii for repairs. Now System 001/B is working on the water, which has been actively collecting plastic for several months, up to 1 millimeter particles. This plastic is sent to recycling stations or burned to generate electricity.
But the main problem remained-new garbage constantly comes from the rivers. In a much larger volume than Ocean Cleanup can yet remove. Until it is solved, we can’t even dream of making the oceans cleaner and letting our hydrosphere breathe freely. Everything from zooplankton down the chain to fish and humans is gradually poisoned by microplastic particles year after year.
Ocean Cleanup together with oceanologists studied more than 40,000 rivers and found that most of the plastic waste in the ocean bring only 20 rivers. Almost all of them are located in Southeast Asia Cleaning of rivers . They also learned that the thousand dirtiest rivers in the world (less than 1% of the total) account for about 80% of garbage. If you remove the debris coming from these rivers, cleaning up the ocean becomes a realistic task.Here’s their interactive map of the world’s dirtiest rivers. Most are small and fairly narrow waterways that pass through urban areas. Ideal for catching garbage in them (not to mention the fact that it is much closer to deliver it for processing later than from the Pacific ocean, where the nearest plant is thousands of kilometers away).
It is in these rivers that they plan to launch a new unit – The Interceptor.
The 25-year-old Dutchman presented his invention at a forum in Rotterdam. Interceptor (“Interceptor”) – a huge catamaran 24 meters long and 8 meters wide, in which a conveyor belt filters the water, catching debris and distributing it in floating containers. After filling them, the operator on the ground receives a signal, sends the boat, and the plastic is taken for recycling. The system is able to collect 50-110 tons of garbage per day.
The device is powered by a solar battery and has built-in lithium-ion batteries, so it can work day and night without noise and exhaust gases. During garbage fishing, the system covers only half of the river (and only the top layer), which means that it does not become an obstacle for other vessels and wildlife. The device is designed for 20 years of service, created so that it does not turn over even in the event of a sharp flood or large waves. It is also not afraid of heavy large objects (the device has a “nose” that pushes them out of the way).
The cost of building one “Interceptor” is 700 thousand euros. Also, several thousand euros each month is required for maintenance. But part of the cost is covered by the sale of collected plastic Cleaning of rivers. One ton of PET costs up to 500 euros (in the third world countries, where most of the collection will take place now-about 200 euros). If you start mass production of such “interceptors”, and sign good contracts for recycling, over time it may even turn into a profitable business. Although Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit Foundation, and it does not think about profit yet.
To truly rid the oceans of plastic, we need to both clean up the current “garbage legacy” and stop littering. Now there are solutions for both parts of the equation.
The Interceptor is designed so that it can be placed on almost any river. But he has the ability to adapt to situations. For example, many of the rivers that Slat talks about in the presentation have a “bottleneck” where all the garbage is washed up, rushing in a continuous stream. There, the conveyor belt just sits and takes the garbage that floats in the direction of the ship. On other rivers, a thin floating barrier is used, closing the waste road on the surface of the water and directing them to the receiving hole in the catamaran. And sometimes, if the current is weak, the Interceptor goes swimming, collecting all the garbage it finds along the way.
The first, test “Interceptor” is installed in Jakarta, Indonesia. The second, already full-scale, works on the Klang river, in Malaysia, one of the dirtiest on the planet. Video of its Assembly and start of work can be viewed here. The third will soon appear in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. And the fourth (who stood on the stage in Rotterdam with Slat) – will go to the Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo.Thailand has already signed an agreement to place a cleaning vessel near Bangkok. Negotiations are also underway to install an “interceptor” in Los Angeles.
Bojan Slat intends to work with government leaders, foundations and private organizations to install treatment facilities on one thousand of the world’s most polluted rivers over the next five years.