Boyan Slat and the team at The Ocean Cleanup Project are working along, tinkering and learning.
Here's their latest report: Into the Twilight Zone
First, they remind us where they were a year ago:
Our first attempt at doing so was deployed last year: System 001, also known as Wilson. After months of testing, we took Wilson back to port in the first days of this year after it suffered a fatigue fracture. This was not ideal, but both the diagnosis and solution came quite easily.
And then, they bring us up to date on where they are now:
The more complicated challenge was the system’s inability to retain plastic; instead of consistently going faster than the plastic, it alternated between going faster and going slower than the plastic. This meant plastic would float into the system, as planned, but then float out again.
We launched System 001/B in late June, which was followed by a six-week testing campaign to test slowing down the system using a parachute anchor and test speeding up the system using large inflatable buoys.
the winning concept is the slow-down approach, in which we use a parachute anchor to slow down the system as much as possible, allowing the natural winds and waves to push the plastic into the system.
there’s always a twist in each episode; well, here’s ours: the plastic is currently able to cross over the cork line into The Twilight Zone. While it is technically still within the boundaries of the system, there is no screen underneath the floater pipe, so we cannot consider this plastic caught because it is not securely retained in front of the screen.
we will now be using three rows of 32 cm floats stacked on top of each other, creating a total height of about half a meter.
It's a wonderful article, with great diagrams and deeper explanations throughout.
This is incremental engineering at its best: start with something; it does some things properly but fails in other ways; test, improve, repeat.
I'm looking forward to more great updates!