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Holland Chosen for First Ocean Cleanup Test

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January 4, 2016

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Holland Chosen for First Ocean Cleanup Test

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The Ocean Cleanup will be deploying a 100 meter-long barrier segment in the second quarter of 2016 in the North Sea, 23 km off the coast of The Netherlands. It will be the first time the barrier design will be put to the test in open waters.

The Ocean Cleanup’s passive technology consists of a V-shaped array of floating barriers, attached to the seabed, which catch the plastic deposited there by the natural ocean currents.

Underneath the booms, a submerged non-permeable screen will help concentrate plastic which is suspended under the surface. Most of the current will pass under these screens, carrying away all (neutrally buoyant) sea life and preventing by-catch. The lighter-than-water plastic will collect in front of the floating barriers.

The scalable array of floating barriers will funnel plastics towards the center of the structure, enabling a central platform to efficiently extract and store the concentrated plastic until it is transported to land for recycling.

Intended for large-scale deployment, it is expected to be capable of harvesting plastic from millions of square kilometers.

The main objective of the North Sea test is to monitor the effects of real-life sea conditions, with a focus on waves and currents. The motions of the barrier and the loads on the system will be monitored by cameras and sensors.

The floating barriers are regarded as one of the most critical elements of the concept, since they are responsible for capturing and concentrating the plastic debris. Due to their size and the extreme oceanic conditions, the barriers have always been top focus of the engineering team. After extensive computer modelling and scale model testing in controlled environments at the Deltares and MARIN basins, the organization’s engineers believe it is time to move the barrier to the next stage of development.

The North Sea test will help to de-risk the Coastal Pilot, the first operational cleanup system planned to be deployed off the coast of Tsushima Island, Japan. In order to be able to make full use of the North Sea test results, the go-ahead for the Coastal Pilot will be pushed back to the second half of 2016.

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. The North Sea test will be helping to ensure the effectiveness and durability once the large-scale system will be deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2020.

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