Delft student’s Ocean Cleanup crowdfunding successful
The Ocean Cleanup, a concept launched by Delft student Boyan Slat to tackle plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, has reached its crowdfunding goal of two million US dollars to scale-up the project.
More plastic than fish
Boyan was first confronted with the problem of plastic pollution in the seas while diving in Greece, where he spotted more plastic bags than fish.
The problem struck him so much that while still in high school he dedicated six months of research to understanding plastic pollution and the economic, logistical and technological challenges of cleaning it up.
At age 17 Boyan first presented his passive ocean cleanup concept at the TEDxDelft conference in 2012, where it was greeted with widespread enthusiasm.
The Ocean Cleanup model
The main principle behind the Ocean Cleanup is that it makes use of winds and ocean currents, allowing the ocean to move through it, rather than having to move itself.
The collection structure comprises a 100km-long angled floating barrier, which collects the plastic and allows currents to drive it to a central platform where it can be extracted from the water.
The non-intrusiveness of the design, and the lack of vessels and nets, prevents sea creatures from getting entangled, while still collecting plastic drifting over a vast area.
The passive collection structures would be installed in the world’s five rotating currents or gyres, located in the middle of the largest oceans. This is where floating plastic gathers after years at sea, forming soupy aquatic garbage patches. In this way the oceans can clean themselves.
Successful feasibility study
In response to criticism and doubt about the project, Boyan and his team conducted a year of research, releasing a feasibility study in June 2014 to confirm the concept works.
More than 100 professionals and volunteers contributed to the study, in which they analysed factors such as boom design, storm resistance, environmental impact, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
The next step
After the launch of the feasibility study, the team set out to raise two million US dollars via crowdfunding, within 100 days, to fund the next step of the programme.
Now that the required money has been raised, Boyan (now aged 20) and his team can move on to the next step of building and testing large-scale operational pilots.