19-Year-Old Develops Technology to Rid World’s Oceans of Plastic
Stephen: Boyan Slat is a 19-year-old from the town of Delft in the Netherlands. At age 14, he was awarded the Best Idea of South-Holland award and a Guinness World Record. Now he’s developed a concept called Marine Litter Extraction, a radical clean-up solution to rid our oceans of over 7.25 million tonnes of plastic. Below is a story sent in by several of our readers. I also found a TEDx Talk video the (very nervous) teenager did last year.
By TImon Singh, Inhabitat – March 26, 2013
19-year-old Boyan Slat has unveiled plans to create an Ocean Cleanup Array that could remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans.
The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling.
At school, Boyan Slat launched a project that analyzed the size and amount of plastic particles in the ocean’s garbage patches. His final paper went on to win several prizes, including Best Technical Design 2012 at the Delft University of Technology. Boyan continued to develop his concept during the summer of 2012, and he revealed it several months later at TEDxDelft 2012.
Slat went on to found The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization which is responsible for the development of his proposed technologies. His ingenious solution could potentially save hundreds of thousands of aquatic animals annually, and reduce pollutants (including PCB and DDT) from building up in the food chain. It could also save millions per year, both in clean-up costs, lost tourism and damage to marine vessels.
It is estimated that the clean-up process would take about five years, and it could greatly increase awareness about the world’s plastic garbage patches. On his site Slat says, “One of the problems with preventive work is that there isn’t any imagery of these ‘garbage patches’, because the debris is dispersed over millions of square kilometres. By placing our arrays however, it will accumulate along the booms, making it suddenly possible to actually visualize the oceanic garbage patches. We need to stress the importance of recycling, and reducing our consumption of plastic packaging.” To find out more about the project and to contribute, click here.
How the Oceans Can Clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft
Boyan Slat (@BoyanSlat, Delft, 1994) combines environmentalism, creativity and technology to tackle global issues of sustainability. Currently working on oceanic plastic pollution, he believes current prevention measures will have to be supplemented by active removal of plastics in order to succeed. With his concept called Marine Litter Extraction, Boyan Slat proposes a radical clean-up solution, for which he won the Best Technical Design award 2012 at the TU Delft.
Where millions of tons of plastic kill ocean life and poison food chains, Boyan sees opportunities to combat this. While researching ocean plastics during school holidays, he performed analysis on various fundamental topics (including particle sizes, plastic/plankton separation and the amount of plastic in the oceans), leading up to the first realistic concept for cleaning up the world’s oceans.
Now a first-year Aerospace Engineering student at the TU Delft, Boyan has always been passionate about applying technology in an original way (at age fourteen he set a world record with launching 213 water rockets), and as an (underwater)photographer and videographer witnesses environmental degradation through his very own eyes.
For further information: http://www.boyanslat.com/