“Wilson”: The Ocean Cleanup Project

Published 2018-12-27

Photo: The Ocean Cleanup Project

In October 2018, “Wilson”, or System 001 of the Ocean Cleanup Project, was deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with the purpose of catching and containing floating trash. Quickly after deployment, the team of engineers and developers working on the project noticed that while the barrier was collecting trash, it was also losing it. The barrier system is a 600m long, solar-powered apparatus with a 3m deep skirt, cameras, sensors, and satellite antennas designed to trap floating debris.

Now that the system has been tested in the marine environment, engineers suggest that improvements need to be made to the system to make it effective. These improvements include widening the span of the barrier and altering the design so that it more effectively catches winds and waves to speed up its movement, while removing stagnation effects which direct plastic around the collection system.

Concerns still remain on the system’s impact to marine life, especially organisms which float on the sea surface. In addition, solutions still need to be developed for dealing with fouling, which could cause excess drag in the system.

For more information on Wilson and the Ocean Cleanup Project, visit https://www.theoceancleanup.com/.