Environment

Ocean Cleanup takes on rivers of plastic with "The Interceptor"

Ocean Cleanup takes on rivers ...
The Interceptor is capable of pulling out 50,000 kg (110,200 lb) of trash each day
The Interceptor is capable of pulling out 50,000 kg (110,200 lb) of trash each day
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The Ocean Cleanup Project CEO Boyan Slat with The Interceptor
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The Ocean Cleanup Project CEO Boyan Slat with The Interceptor
The mountain of plastic waste building up in the ocean is a complex problem that will require a variety of creative solutions
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The mountain of plastic waste building up in the ocean is a complex problem that will require a variety of creative solutions
The Interceptor is essentially a catamaran that uses a long floating barrier to guide trash into its opening
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The Interceptor is essentially a catamaran that uses a long floating barrier to guide trash into its opening
The system is anchored to the riverbed in a position that uses the natural flow of the waterway to push trash towards the mouth of The Interceptor, where it piles onto a conveyor belt
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The system is anchored to the riverbed in a position that uses the natural flow of the waterway to push trash towards the mouth of The Interceptor, where it piles onto a conveyor belt
The Ocean Cleanup has already built the first four Interceptors, with one installed in Jakarta and another in Kuala Lumpur
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The Ocean Cleanup has already built the first four Interceptors, with one installed in Jakarta and another in Kuala Lumpur
With onboard lithium batteries, The Interceptor system is entirely solar-powered, which allows for 24/7 operation
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With onboard lithium batteries, The Interceptor system is entirely solar-powered, which allows for 24/7 operation
There is already a huge amount of plastic waste in the ocean, and plenty more continues to pour into it every day by way of the world’s river systems
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There is already a huge amount of plastic waste in the ocean, and plenty more continues to pour into it every day by way of the world’s river systems
The Ocean Cleanup Project is heading upstream to tackle the issue of plastic pollution closer to the source
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The Ocean Cleanup Project is heading upstream to tackle the issue of plastic pollution closer to the source
The Interceptor is capable of pulling out 50,000 kg (110,200 lb) of trash each day
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The Interceptor is capable of pulling out 50,000 kg (110,200 lb) of trash each day

The mountain of plastic waste building up in the ocean is a complex problem that will require a variety of creative solutions. With its huge barriers now successfully collecting trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Ocean Cleanup Project is heading upstream to tackle the issue closer to the source. Its newly unveiled Interceptor is designed to be installed in rivers and collect plastic waste before it reaches the ocean, with two systems already up and running in the waterways of Asia.

There is already a huge amount of plastic waste in the ocean, and plenty more continues to pour into it every day by way of the world’s river systems. To get a better grasp on the issue at hand, the Ocean Cleanup Project undertook a study in 2015 that analyzed more than 40,000 ocean-bound rivers, finding much of the plastic waste entering the seas could be traced to just 20, most of which where on the Asian continent.

In the same year, the Ocean Cleanup quietly began work on a side-project to make use of this new knowledge. It now says that 1,000 of the world’s most heavily polluting rivers contribute around 80 percent of ocean plastics, and The Interceptor is a system built to be deployed in all of them, where it can work around the clock stemming the tide of trash.

The Ocean Cleanup Project is heading upstream to tackle the issue of plastic pollution closer to the source
The Ocean Cleanup Project is heading upstream to tackle the issue of plastic pollution closer to the source

The Interceptor is essentially a catamaran that uses a long floating barrier to guide trash into its opening. This barrier only spans part of the river so that other vessels and marine life can pass, but is anchored to the riverbed in a position that uses the natural flow of the waterway to push trash towards the mouth of The Interceptor, where it piles onto a conveyor belt.

This conveyor belt filters out the trash and allows the water to keep flowing, feeding the rubbish into a set of onboard dumpsters. Sensors built into these dumpsters monitor their loads and push an alert to local operators when they need emptying, at which point the trash is passed off to traditional waste management facilities.

The system is anchored to the riverbed in a position that uses the natural flow of the waterway to push trash towards the mouth of The Interceptor, where it piles onto a conveyor belt
The system is anchored to the riverbed in a position that uses the natural flow of the waterway to push trash towards the mouth of The Interceptor, where it piles onto a conveyor belt

With onboard lithium batteries, the system is entirely solar-powered, which allows for 24/7 operation, and, according to the team, is capable of pulling out 50,000 kg (110,200 lb) of trash each day. When conditions are optimal, the team says it could even extract as much as 100,000 kg (220,400 lb).

The Ocean Cleanup has already built the first four Interceptors, with one installed in Jakarta and another in Kuala Lumpur. Having identified the 1,000 most heavily polluting rivers in the world, it has made it its mission to deploy solutions in all of these by 2025. Working with local authorities and private companies will be key to this, as it tailors the system to the local conditions on a case-by-case basis.

“To truly rid the oceans of plastic, we need to both clean up the legacy and close the tap, preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place. Combining our ocean cleanup technology with the Interceptor, the solutions now exist to address both sides of the equation,” says Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup.

The video below offers an overview of The Interceptor system.

RIVERS | Introducing the Interceptor™ | The Ocean Cleanup

Source: The Ocean Cleanup

3 comments
buzzclick
Years back, when I first heard of the Great Pacific Garbage patch, I immediately suspected that most of it came from Asian rivers, since almost all rivers empty in to the ocean. This is like a floating automatic garbage truck that goes right to the source of the problem. Well actually, the source is the people who originally tossed the trash in the river or the weather conditions that carried it there. It makes me think of my own city that's kept clean with the use of truck-sized vacuum cleaners that pass every morning to keep the streets clean---but people still throw their trash about thoughtlessly. It magically disappears!
James Watt
Brilliant and exciting! A much-needed and well-thought-through and well-engineered project, should be extremely effective!
neoneuron
Every now and then you get a piece of technology that benefits everyone without greed. This is one of them!