Dutch cleantech brains buoy Ocean Cleanup project

It’s nearly the moment of truth for the Dutch brains behind The Ocean Cleanup project, an ambitious venture to clean up the huge amount of plastic waste in the ocean.

Following more than five years of development, the non-profit project’s very first trash-catching system is expected to be towed out towards the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on September 8th.

The final design comprises a 600m-long u-shaped barrier with a skirt hanging below, and uses a mix of winds, currents and surface waves to gather up plastic waste for collection. The team estimates a fleet of its trash-collecting systems can clean 50 per cent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years.

Dutch aerospace engineering student turned entrepreneur Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013 at the age of 18 in his hometown of Delft, the Netherlands. Headquartered in Rotterdam, the Ocean Cleanup’s team now consists of more than 70 engineers, researchers, scientists and computational modellers working daily to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

Clean technology is one of the primary economic sectors in the Rotterdam area. The port, river, and industrial cluster make Rotterdam an obvious base for innovation in industries such as maritime & offshore, as well as energy, logistics, and the chemical industry. The CleanTech Delta, encompassing Delft – Rotterdam – Drechtsteden sees universities, knowledge institutes, cities and companies join forces to develop innovative cleantech initiatives. The region is home to numerous leading cleantech institutions, including UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, NWC National Water Centre, TNO and Delft University of Technology.

The region is also home to the Rotterdam Climate Initiative, and two clean technology incubators: Dynamo Rotterdam and Yes!Delft. Rotterdam annually hosts The Cleantech Summit, which showcases the best investment opportunities within the cleantech industry in Europe.

The Ocean Cleanup construction team has been based in an old naval base in San Francisco since February, piecing the trash-gathering device together. A Maersk Launcher vessel is set to tow the system out past Alcatraz, beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Pacific Ocean.

It will undergo two weeks of operational testing around 250 nautical miles (463 km) off shore, before continuing on to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

(Via: Ocean Cleanup, New Atlas, Clean Tech Delta, Rotterdam Partners)