Back in September, Slat and his team at the non-profit organization he founded, the Ocean Cleanup Project, watched as his 2,000-foot-long invention left San Francisco for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest collection of ocean plastics in the world located between California and Hawaii.
The Ocean Cleanup's System 001 marine plastic collection prototype, known as "Wilson", will be returning to port for fix after less than three months out in the Pacific Ocean.
Founder & CEO Boyan Slat announced the news in a December 31 blog post, saying "setbacks like this are inevitable when pioneering new technology at a rapid pace", and maintaining that " these teething troubles are solvable, and the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be operational in 2019".More news: Vijay Mallya is first person to be declared fugitive economic offender
In addition to addressing structural problems, the fix crew will "upgrade" the system to retain more plastic.
The cleanup system has collected some litter since being deployed October 16, and is returning to port with about 2.2 tons of plastic, including fishing nets, Slat said. The entire floating system, along with over 4,400 pounds of plastic it has recovered, is being brought back to shore.
The device is 2,000 feet long with a 10-foot skirt that hangs below it, under the water. The return to port comes 116 days after the celebrated launch of System 001 for a couple weeks of testing followed by setup in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Both sections are said to be stable, all bulkheads are intact, and no safety risks for the crew, environment or passing marine traffic have been reported. Crew members found that an end section of the cleanup's U-shaped boom had detached, Slat said on the nonprofit's site. Some debris had been eluding capture because the system apparently was not consistently traveling faster than the plastic, the Ocean Cleanup announced about a month ago.More news: Baylor hands UConn women first regular-season loss in 126 games
As envisioned, The Ocean Cleanup's goal is to eventually deploy numerous units throughout the ocean.
The organization has also observed that the system creates waves, possibly preventing plastic from entering the mouth of the device.
"The system isn't able to retain the plastic well, so once it's caught we also sometimes see it floating out again", Slat said.More news: Gallery: A visit in pictures of the 'Michael 50' exhibition