‘Boy Genius’ Who Said He’d Make Oceans Clean Themselves Just Created Solar-Powered Barges That Clean Rivers

Oceans are packed with plastic endangering the survival of many marine species and it is about time that we do something about it. Every effort counts and contributes to clean environment and Boyan Slat is well aware of it.

This young man is the creator of The Ocean Cleanup that represents a passive floating device that effectively collects plastic. Boyan Slat was 16 years old when he went on a diving trip to Greece and in order to enjoy all the beauty sea water can offer he was shocked to see more plastic than fish on the coast. This was his trigger point in life deciding that he should do something about it.

Two years after his trip to Greece he created The Ocean Cleanup, but he did not stop there and also developed solar-powered barges that catch the plastic in the rivers before entering the oceans.

Boyan Slat is now 25 years old and still fights the plastic pollution. This Dutch inventor and entrepreneur helped with his inventions to clean the oceans from plastic, especially focusing on disassembling and cleaning of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Ocean Cleanup did its job, but Boyan knew in order to be this project more efficient he needs to deal with the source of the pollution, the rivers. Namely, he found out that 1000 rivers around the world are the source of around 80% of the plastic that enters the oceans. Therefore, he realized that the clean-up of the oceans would be more successful if the right issue is being addressed and that is the original pollution coming from the rivers. Hence, he created the solar-powered barge that has the capacity of picking out 110 tons of garbage on daily basis. In this way, he fights ocean pollution at the source, instead of mitigating its symptoms.

The Interceptor

His latest invention is named as “Interceptor”, a solar-powered barge that functions by sucking the river debris into dumpsters which is later on emptied on shore for recycling.

Slat explained the goal of Interceptor:

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.”

The Interceptor can operate 24/7 since it is designed to be entirely autonomous battery-run ocean cleaning vessel. It runs on lithium-ion batteries and solar panels which makes it almost self-sustainable, scalable, and as well as internet-connected. Interceptor “can work autonomously until it’s full and can continue extracting debris even when the dumpsters are being emptied.” Plus, “its large storage capacity allows for efficient emptying cycles, filling entire garbage trucks at once.”

The capacity of one barge is collection of 110 tons of garbage every day which is a lot thus helping in the reduction of the amount of waste entering the oceans.

Here it is what the website of The Ocean Cleanup states:

“To rid the oceans of plastic, we need to not only clean up what is already out there but also stop new plastic from entering the ocean: we need to close the tap. Working together with government leaders, individuals and private corporations, our goal is to tackle these 1000 most polluting rivers, all over the world, by 2025.”

At the moment the Interceptor is doing its job and cleans the Klang River in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Cengkareng Drain in Jakarta, Indonesia. In addition to this, the first project of Slat the “The Ocean Cleanup” is also still running and cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is expected to clean half the patch in the next 5 years. 

This young man is still working really hard with his team to fulfill his goal and clean the oceans. He stated:

Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. We still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.”

We can all help in the cleaning of the rivers by donating so that more “Interceptors” are being built and thus actively participate in the mission of The Ocean Cleanup.

According to the NGO’s website:

We see ourselves as the architects for river projects to stop the inflow of plastic into the oceans. The Ocean Cleanup brings in the knowledge (where and how to intercept riverine plastic), provides solutions (e.g. the Interceptor), and uses its network to raise awareness and help attract funding and financing.”