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Waste combing plastic waste out oceans  competition for boyan slat | Upload Recycling

Combing Plastic Waste Out Oceans: Competition For Boyan Slat

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by: Sharai Hoekema
combing plastic waste out oceans  competition for boyan slat | Upload

A problem that has been discussed frequently and intensively: the amount of plastic that winds up in the earth’s oceans. At this point in time, it adds up to more than 13 million tons that ends up in the water each year - which makes up 70% of all marine litter items. 
An incredible and unbelievable number, that has spurred governments to take action. Recently, the EU passed legislation that is to drastically cut down the use of single-use products by banning those products from the market for which an alternative is readily available and affordable. 

As explained by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans: “Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food. Today's proposals will reduce single use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures. We will ban some of these items, and substitute them with cleaner alternatives so people can still use their favourite products.”

Getting rid of the plastic waste

Although this is a great effort at reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our seas, it does not change any of the waste that is already floating around - nor will it completely solve the issue. Thankfully, more and more initiatives are arising that seek to combat the problem. One of these originates from the young German architect Marcella Hansch, who came up with a closed-loop platform that would best be described as a comb.

Hansch came up with this idea while diving in Cape Verde, where she saw more plastic than fish. She learned from closer research that if the current plastic trend continues, there would be more plastic in the ocean by 2050 than fish. Determined to prevent this from happening, she created a filter system and fine-tuned it during her years in university, taking on extra engineering courses and studying ocean currents and different types of algae.



                                         Combing Plastic Waste Out Oceans: Competition For Boyan Slat
              Pacific Garbage Screening - how architecture could save our oceans | Marcella Hansch | TEDxDresden

A closed-loop platform that does not produce waste

Eventually, her design took on the shape of a closed-loop system that does not generate any kind of waste. The combination of a bulbous shape and a extensive system of underwater channels are supposed to calm the ocean currents, which allows the plastic - which is lighter than water - to float to the surface from the depths of up to 30 meters that it could have been dragged under to, after which it can be skimmed off by the platform. This does not require any kind of filters or nets.

After picking up the waste, her ultimate goal was to recycle it - which proved to be quite a laborious task, as the plastic’s molecular structure has been destroyed by the influence of the salt water, making it nearly impossible to recycle. This is why she came up with the original plan of running the waste through a plasma gasification process, that would convert the plastic to hydrogen and carbon dioxide - with the hydrogen serving as a energy source for the fuel cells powering the platform. Simultaneously, the carbon dioxide could serve as a nutrient for the algae cultures growing on the platform.

Unfortunately, this approach did not make its way into the final product - as it would not have worked, according to Hansch. Yet she and her team are fully dedicated to finding a workable solution. Meanwhile, they are looking to roll out the project to get it operational soon, through the NGO Pacific Garbage Screening, that runs on volunteers (mostly engineering students) and donations, alongside support from the university of Aachen. 

Testing the ‘Waste Comb’ and prototyping

The system is extensively tried and tested on its validity, efficiency and feasibility, leading up to the quick development of a prototype - that will be taken out in the field to experience the real, harsh conditions of ocean life in a ‘safer’ setting, to find out whether it can hold up. For this, the team is actively raising funds and investors to help it get started.

Why it would be interesting to check out this initiative? Well, for starters, because it is a scientifically and logically sound idea to rid the oceans of the plastics that are currently weighing it down. And yes, there are a large number of alternatives out there - the Ocean Cleanup initiative, and the Great Bubble Barrier, just to mention a few - but as Pacific Garbage Sceening’s Hansch strikingly put it, “there's enough plastic in the ocean for everyone.”

Before you go!

Recommended: Waste In Oceans: Plastic Soup And The Great Bubble Barrier

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Combing Plastic Waste Out Oceans: Competition For Boyan Slat

A problem that has been discussed frequently and intensively: the amount of plastic that winds up in the earth’s oceans. At this point in time, it adds up to more than 13 million tons that ends up in the water each year - which makes up 70% of all marine litter items.   An incredible and unbelievable number, that has spurred governments to take action. Recently, the EU passed legislation that is to drastically cut down the use of single-use products by banning those products from the market for which an alternative is readily available and affordable.   As explained by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans: “ Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food. Today's proposals will reduce single use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures. We will ban some of these items, and substitute them with cleaner alternatives so people can still use their favourite products .” Getting rid of the plastic waste Although this is a great effort at reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our seas, it does not change any of the waste that is already floating around - nor will it completely solve the issue. Thankfully, more and more initiatives are arising that seek to combat the problem. One of these originates from the young German architect Marcella Hansch, who came up with a closed-loop platform that would best be described as a comb. Hansch came up with this idea while diving in Cape Verde, where she saw more plastic than fish. She learned from closer research that if the current plastic trend continues, there would be more plastic in the ocean by 2050 than fish. Determined to prevent this from happening, she created a filter system and fine-tuned it during her years in university, taking on extra engineering courses and studying ocean currents and different types of algae. {youtube}                                          Combing Plastic Waste Out Oceans: Competition For Boyan Slat               Pacific Garbage Screening - how architecture could save our oceans | Marcella Hansch | TEDxDresden A closed-loop platform that does not produce waste Eventually, her design took on the shape of a closed-loop system that does not generate any kind of waste. The combination of a bulbous shape and a extensive system of underwater channels are supposed to calm the ocean currents, which allows the plastic - which is lighter than water - to float to the surface from the depths of up to 30 meters that it could have been dragged under to, after which it can be skimmed off by the platform. This does not require any kind of filters or nets. After picking up the waste , her ultimate goal was to recycle it - which proved to be quite a laborious task, as the plastic’s molecular structure has been destroyed by the influence of the salt water, making it nearly impossible to recycle. This is why she came up with the original plan of running the waste through a plasma gasification process, that would convert the plastic to hydrogen and carbon dioxide - with the hydrogen serving as a energy source for the fuel cells powering the platform. Simultaneously, the carbon dioxide could serve as a nutrient for the algae cultures growing on the platform. Unfortunately, this approach did not make its way into the final product - as it would not have worked, according to Hansch. Yet she and her team are fully dedicated to finding a workable solution. Meanwhile, they are looking to roll out the project to get it operational soon, through the NGO Pacific Garbage Screening, that runs on volunteers (mostly engineering students) and donations, alongside support from the university of Aachen.   Testing the ‘Waste Comb’ and prototyping The system is extensively tried and tested on its validity, efficiency and feasibility, leading up to the quick development of a prototype - that will be taken out in the field to experience the real, harsh conditions of ocean life in a ‘safer’ setting, to find out whether it can hold up. For this, the team is actively raising funds and investors to help it get started. Why it would be interesting to check out this initiative? Well, for starters, because it is a scientifically and logically sound idea to rid the oceans of the plastics that are currently weighing it down. And yes, there are a large number of alternatives out there - the Ocean Cleanup initiative, and the Great Bubble Barrier, just to mention a few - but as Pacific Garbage Sceening’s Hansch strikingly put it, “ there's enough plastic in the ocean for everyone .” Before you go! Recommended:  Waste In Oceans: Plastic Soup And The Great Bubble Barrier Did you like the article? Leave below a comment. We will reply the same day!
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