Cleaning up the Oceans with Ocean Interceptor
by Noah Patton
The Interceptor was revealed by Boyan Slat on October 26, 2019. It is an invention created by Netherlands based environmental organization The Ocean Cleanup.
The Ocean Cleanup is the brain child of young inventor Boyan Slat. Slat found his passion when diving in Greece, discovering more waste than fish. He decided to do a high school project on ocean plastic pollution and why it was considered an impossible problem. Later he would present a TED talk at the age of 17, speaking about his idea to utilize a passive collection system using ocean currents.
In 2013 Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup. After raising US$2.2 million via crowd funding, they published their feasibility report in June 2014. While many field experts found the concept technically infeasible, the organization continued to refine their ideas. The actual ocean plastic removal side of their organization is constantly being improved, with various trials and tests underway. The Interceptor reveals a new concept to target the primary source of ocean plastic pollution, rivers.
The organization conducted research, discovering that the primary source of ocean plastic pollution is carried to the ocean by rivers. They found that 80% of all river plastic in the world belongs to 1000 problematic rivers. These are rivers that travel through high-population areas, like the Ganges in India, the Buriganga River in Bangladesh and the Marilao river in the Philippines.
The Ocean Cleanup aims to combat this pollution through a waste-free, autonomous boat dubbed the Interceptor. They plan to introduce an Interceptor in all 1000 of these rivers by 2025. But what do they do, and how do they work?
The Interceptor works by utilizing the natural current of the river to funnel plastic into the mouth of the ship. A barrier is placed strategically along the river to allow passage for other ships, the barrier forces the plastic into a specific path leading to the ship. Once it is inside the mouth, a conveyor belt pulls the plastic into a shuttle. The shuttle will automatically distribute the plastic among the numerous dumpsters inside the ship. When the dumpsters are full, the Interceptor automatically notifies local operators to come collect and recycle the debris. The shuttle will also act as an overflow, allowing for large amounts of plastic to be collected in the scenario that an operator cannot reach the ship quickly enough.
All electronics on the Interceptor; from the light, sensors, conveyor and shuttle, are powered by solar energy. It is not reliant on any kind of fuel, and the ship is made mostly of recycled materials.
The Ocean Cleanup claims the Interceptor can extract 50,000kg of plastic per day, but in ideal conditions it can extract up to 100,000kg of plastic per day. As it is autonomous, it can operate 24/7 on the solar power collected throughout the day. It stores 50m3 of plastic – it will fill an entire garbage truck each time one is emptied.
Two Interceptors have already been deployed, one in Jakarta and the other in Klang. Below is the full conference revealing the Interceptor.