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Friday, September 12, 2014

#189 - Update on Boyan Slat

In May 2013 we did a blog post about a young man named Boyan Slat who had an interesting idea for cleaning up the plastic that is caught in the earth's ocean gyres. At the time, the pollution problem, the clean-up concept, a few diagrams, and expressions of interest and encouragement from various parties were all that could be examined. A feasibility study had yet to be done on Mr. Slat’s idea.

I wanted to do an update to the May 2013 blog post because it has been persistently popular among our visitors and is actually increasing in popularity lately. The increased interest can probably be traced to the fact that the feasibility study has finally been completed and a crowdfunding campaign is in its final stages at this time of writing.

During the feasibility studies, the concept seems to have evolved somewhat. However, the core idea of funneling plastic debris from at / near the water surface is still intact. The Ocean Cleanup organization remains confident that their floating array can “remove almost half the plastic from the North Pacific Garbage patch in 10 years, while being an estimated 7900x faster and 33x cheaper than conventional methods.” – from their website.

They are also interested in expanding the scope of the concept to “river deltas and other waterways that transport plastic to the oceans. This could provide a rapid reduction of the influx of new plastics into the oceans.”

A copy of the feasibility study executive summary is available here.

This study has enabled Boyan Slat move forward with having a positive discussion in response to some of the various questions and criticisms initially raised about the concept. The next steps are to develop detailed engineering, scale up the testing, and continue the research.

At present, there are opportunities for anyone to assist with funds or with expertise.

Edit Dec 23/2014 - We noticed this recent article on the website about another study of the ocean plastic problem.

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