The Ocean Cleanup foundation will deploy an innovative floating dam designed to trap plastic bags, bottles and other plastic waste in the North Sea later this year to test real-life sea conditions.
The 100-metre-long barrier segment will be deployed in the second quarter of 2016, 23 kilometres off the cost of The Netherlands in the North Sea. “It will be the first time our barrier design will be put to the test in open waters,” says The Ocean Cleanup foundation.
The barrier is designed to catch plastic pollution using the natural movement of the ocean currents. As we wrote earlier this year, the current flows underneath the barrier, taking with it the marine life and preventing by-catch, while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier, where it is then trapped.
The main objective of the North Sea test is to monitor the effects of real-life sea conditions on the barrier, more specifically on waves and currents.
The North Sea test will help the foundation’s engineers with the first operational cleanup system, which is planned to be deployed off the coast of Tsushima Island, Japan. The go-ahead for that pilot project will be pushed back to the second half of 2016 to make full use of the North Sea test results.
“Both tests are a part of The Ocean Cleanup’s efforts to develop a passive technology to clean up the world’s oceanic garbage patches, testing and iterating the floating barrier design,” writes the foundation.
The foundation’s ultimate goal is to install a 100-kilometre-long, V-shaped floating barrier in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean in 2020. According to AFP, each arm of the V would feature a three-metre-deep screen that would block waste and direct it to a central point where it could be collected for recycling.
Image credit: The Ocean Cleanup