This Floating Contraption Could Scoop Out Absurd Amounts of Ocean Plastic – Facts So Romantic

A 21-year-old named Boyan Slat says he can solve one of the greatest ecological disasters of our age: the build-up of vast amounts of plastic in our oceans. The young Dutchman, often photographed in a t-shirt and shorts, says he’s designed a structure that will harvest and recycle much of that waste.

Gobbler of Plastic: Artistic conception of Slat’s array.Erwin Zwart/The Ocean Cleanup

Made from a combination of steel and polyester, Slat’s plastic-collecting structure floats on the surface of the ocean near the center of a gyre, a system of rotating ocean currents created by wind and the Earth’s rotation. There are six major gyres in the world’s oceans and, when plastic approaches one, it gets trapped by the churning currents and accumulates, over time forming large garbage patches. Slat’s array faces the current, letting it do the work of pushing plastic into the array’s arms. It’s V-shape structure—composed of long connecting booms that stretch for 100 kilometers (60 miles) each and anchored to the seabed every 4 kilometers with long polyester straps—encourages plastic to flow toward its center, where a solar-powered conveyer belt extracts, separates, and stores the plastic in a tower for pickup.

Slat has captured the imagination…

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