Canadian Consulting Engineer

Plastic – bane of the oceans

January 5, 2016

"Kamilo Beach2 Courtesy Algalita dot org" by - Courtesy Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

“Kamilo Beach2 Courtesy Algalita dot org” by – Courtesy Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – Wikipedia

Engineers with the organization Ocean Cleanup are going to deploy a system of floating barriers in the North Sea to see how well they work in cleaning up plastic from the oceans.

The system involves a series of V-shaped barriers that are attached to the seabed. They have non-permeable screens that will gather up submerged plastics near the surface, but will allow sea life to pass below them in the ocean currents. The collected plastic will be funnelled into a central section where it will be removed and conveyed for recycling.

Currently it’s been estimated that at least 5.25 trillium pieces of plastic are in the oceans. About 8 million tons of the material, which adsorbs toxic substances such as PCBs, are deposited every year.

Much of the waste accumulates in five areas, called “gyres,” and it and causes terrible damage to sea life. About a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die every year from the pollution. The waste also costs billions to clean up on beaches and in damage to the fishing industry and tourism.


Ocean Cleanup says that the North Sea tests will enable the engineers to monitor the real-life sea conditions, focusing on waves and currents and how the barrier moves, using cameras and sensors. “The barriers have always been top focus of the engineering team. After extensive computer modeling and scale model testing in controlled environments… our engineers believe it is time to move the barrier to the next stage of development.”

The test is being done 23 kilometres off the coast of the Netherlands. The first actual deployment of the system is scheduled for the second half of 2016 off the cost of Tsushima Island, Japan.

For more information, click here.

To see how much damage the problem can cause, click here.



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