Dutch dredging and maritime company Boskalis is to transport and install the world’s first ocean cleanup system ever tested at sea, The Ocean Cleanup’s North Sea prototype, 23 kilometers off the Dutch coast.
“This is a historic day on the path towards clean oceans. A successful outcome of this test should put us on track to deploy the first operational pilot system in late 2017,” Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup foundation said.
A 100-meter long segment of the floating barrier will be deployed in the North Sea. Sensors will track every motion and load in the barrier, which will provide the engineers with the data to design a system that will be able to survive during the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Boskalis said.
The cleaning technology makes use of long floating barriers which act as an artificial coastline, passively catching and concentrating ocean debris. The system is powered by the ocean’s natural currents. Testing the barriers is important because of their crucial role in the cleanup concept. Although some trash may be caught during the North Sea prototype test, collecting plastic is not its objective, The Ocean Cleanup said.
The objective is to test how this floating barrier fares in extreme weather at sea – the kind of conditions the system will eventually face when deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, according to The Ocean Cleanup.
“We urgently need this initiative to actually clean up the plastic from the mid-ocean gyres, where the pollution is trapped for an indefinite time, to prevent permanent damage due to degradation and fragmentation into dangerous microplastics,” Sharon Dijksma, Dutch Minister for the Environment, said.
The funding for the project was secured earlier this June. Manufacturing, deployment and testing of the North Sea prototype are budgeted at EUR 1.5 million. Boskalis and the Dutch government are each financing one third of the sum. The remaining part has been obtained by an anonymous donator.