Dutch teenager invents device to clean Earth's oceans in five years

June 5, 2015 10:15 AM |

World Oceans Day

Ocean pollution is perhaps the most challenging issue in front of global environmentalists. Earth’s oceans face a number of threats like oil spills, untreated sewage, plastic and synthetic debris, and more. Many believe that cleaning our oceans is a daunting task and may take hundreds of years. Moreover, conventional methods of cleaning oceans are time-consuming, expensive, and lead to emissions which cause even more pollution. But now, a cheaper and highly effective solution has finally emerged.

Back in 2013, Dutch inventor and aerospace engineering student Boyan Slat (in pic above) took the world by storm when he introduced what is today known as the ‘Ocean Array’. Slat then registered his non-profit organization The Ocean Cleanup, which now aims to clean up the world’s oceans in just 5 years. As per the organization’s official website, the project will be deployed in 2016.

So how does this unbelievably true idea work? While everyone was busy brainstorming ways to reach garbage patches across the world, Slat put forward his view of letting the garbage come to them. A 2000 meter floating structure uses ocean currents to gather garbage which is then retrieved later via a standing platform. Ocean currents flow underneath Slat’s giant structure allowing harmless sea life to pass while catching the lighter-than-water plastic in its realm. Simply speaking, the ocean cleans itself.

In five years’ time, Slat’s company plans to launch a 100 kilometer long system between Hawaii and California, which would allow them to clean up almost half of the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch. As per an estimate, the mechanism will rid the region of 70,320,000 kg of garbage. The cost of the project stands at just € 4.53 per kilo which amounts to around Rs. 316 per kg. By global standards, it’s cheaper than cheap can be.

Anyone who understands the challenge of cleaning oceans would give a standing ovation to Slat’s simple yet highly effective idea. As per a study, Earth’s oceans are polluted with 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 269,000 tons. This pollution will affect as many as 100,000 sea turtles and some 1,000,000 ocean animals annually. Let that settle for a while. In 2014, Slat won the Champions of the Earth award from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for his efforts. Slat and his team answered critics and have proven the feasibility of their project. Come 2016 and our oceans will become cleaner. But as The Ocean Cleanup states, controlling ocean pollution will be a far more difficult and important step requiring efforts from all sects of the society.

(Featured Image Credit: fabrique3d.com)
(Main Image Credit: motherboard.vice.com)

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