Mainly, the Ocean Cleanup system, after being successfully tested, it moved to Great Pacific Garbage Patch and started cleaning plastics. Although, Ocean Cleanup faced challenges, as the plastic is exiting the system once it is collected, the Foundation is working on causes and solutions to remedy this.
The team behind the project, collected data and analyze them in order to understand what caused the two problems, which are:
- The system hasn’t been able to retain the plastic it caught;
- The floater suffered from a structural failure, causing an 18-meter end section to disconnect from the rest of the system, just before the end of 2018.
Therefore, the Ocean Cleanup published a report to explain the results of the analysis.
A root cause analysis showed that the relative speed differential between the plastic and the system occasionally shifts from positive to negative.
For the system to effectively retain plastic, it must consistently travel faster than the plastic.
The solution that the system's engineers concluded was to open the U-shape about 60-70 meters wider.
Doing this should, theoretically, have two effects on the speed of the system:
- It will increase the surface area of the system exposed to the wind and waves, which are the driving forces of the system;
- Widening the span could also reduce the propulsive force caused by the undulating ends, because it would not be directed straight into the motion direction of the system anymore.
Despite the barriers, Boyan Slat refers to the successes the project has achieved up to now:
- The U-shape configuration (and the system's ability to retain the U-shape). Once the system was arranged in its operational shape, it maintained this configuration without any challenges.
- System 001's ability to orient with the wind.
- Plastic concentrations in and around the system were much higher than in any other location in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and, although the periods the plastic was retained in the system were not yet of sufficient length, the system did capture and concentrate plastic.
- System 001 was built to follow the varying movements of the water, rather than respond against the forces. The system's stability in operational configuration and response to following the waves were in line with our design expectations.
- Plastic was not witnessed to have been lost due to overtopping.
- During its time offshore, the electronics and the satellite connection were strong, allowing us to compile data on its movements, to measure the strains on the floater and to acquire imagery taken from the system. As the cleanup fleet will one day be fully autonomous, being able to establish a reliable communications link with the systems is crucial.
- Protecting the natural environment is at the core of our work. On board the three crew shifts were marine biologists and third-party observers to understand if and how System 001 interacted with the environment surrounding it. During its deployment, no environmental impact issues were observed.
Concluding, the system was demobilized in Hilo Bay, Hawaii, on March 23, 2019, and the team hopes to be ready for a relaunch within a matter of months.