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Novel Bid to Rid Oceans of Plastic Debris

19-year-old Boyan Slat has come up with a solution to remove the plastic waste in the ocean within 5 years. His design consists of a plastic processing platform, anchored in the area surrounding a garbage patch.  It aims to remove 7,250,000 tons of garbage from the ocean.  The system would catch plastic but allow plankton to be filtered through.  It would run sustainably on energy from the sun and the currents and waves. It would save hundreds of thousands of aquatic animals each year and reduce the buildup of chemicals like PCB–a banned chemical known for causing cancer in animals–and DDT, a chemical that is difficult to remove from the environment.

The idea would also increase awareness of the ocean’s garbage patches by allowing all of the waste to be visualized in a contained space, rather than spread out. By lowering clean-up costs, reducing damage to aquatic vessels and  increasing tourism, Slat’s design could save millions of dollars each year.

Slat’s design has won several prizes, including Best Technical Design 2012 at the Delft University of Technology. He has also founded a non-profit organization, The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, which is working to develop these technologies.  A feasibility study is currently underway.

Source:

Amanda Froelich, “Ingenious 19-year-old Develops Plan to Clean up Oceans in 5 Years”, True Activist, September 13, 2013. http://www.trueactivist.com/ingenious-19-year-old-develops-plan-to-clean-up-oceans-in-5-years/

Timon Singh,  “19-Year-Old Student Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons of Plastic From the World’s Oceans”, Inhabitat, March 26, 2013. http://inhabitat.com/19-year-old-student-develops-ocean-cleanup-array-that-could-remove-7250000-tons-of-plastic-from-the-worlds-oceans/

Student Researchers: Chris Cathcart, Bianca Kingwell (Santa Rosa Junior College)

Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Santa Rosa Junior College)

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