The Ocean Cleanup project has launched its second attempt at using a boom system to remove plastic from the world’s oceans. Last year, the initial design was launched, including the use of a 2000 foot boom to capture floating plastic in the Pacific. The target is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located midway between Hawaii and California. The initial design was launched in September of 2018, but by January, a section of the boom had become disconnected. In addition, there were issues with the inconsistent speed of how the boom traveled relative to the floating trash.
The team at The Ocean Cleanup went back to the drawing board to tackle some of the design issues. Instead of “chasing” the debris, the new design allows for the track to float into the U-shaped boom which is slowed by a large sea anchor. The boom system was broken down into segments, allowing it to be serviced at sea instead of requiring a tow back to San Francisco. In addition, the boom size was scaled back to make it feasible for the entire system to be towed at a much higher speed. Finally, the collection boom and curtain combination has been moved forward of the main boom floatation, reducing structural stress on the overall system.