Can our oceans be cleaned of the plastics slowly polluting them? Boyan Slat believes that the answer is yes. The 19 year old aerospace engineer student born in Delft, Holland in 1994, has combined environmentalism, creativity and technology to come up with a possible solution to this threat.
There are approximately 7.25 million kilos of plastic floating on the oceans threatening marine life of every variety. It is a huge problem. But the youth and intelligence of this young man are equal to it. Plastic garbage travels through waterways and accumulates in the oceans in high concentration areas called gyres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone is twice the size of Texas.
Boyan proposes that platforms, anchored to the sea bed, and fitted with massive booms be placed at the circumference of these gyres . These would then funnel garbage towards processing platforms where it would be stored in containers ready for upland processing after being separated from plankton and have the water removed.
Boyan believes that not only will this help solve the problem of plastic pollution, it can even be profitable. Slat refined his concept during summer break and presented it at TEDxDelft on 2012.
“Human history is basically a list of things that couldn’t be done, and then were,” says Slat from Holland.
His “Ocean Cleanup Array”, conceived as a university project with classmate Tan Nguyen, uses natural ocean currents and sunshine to power an effort that could possibly complete the cleanup within five years.
Of course, feasibility studies are being carried out as this is a huge undertaking, but the efforts this young man has made are to be applauded. Hopefully, this will prove to be a viable solution for one of many problems harassing our ecology.