Mining the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by wellmer, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. wellmer
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    wellmer New Member

    This is a subtheme of the Thread "Designing a plastic bottle island"

    Is the plastic floating out there a suitable resource to mine it, build a floating island, process plastics, and found a business on this in the sense of seasteading?

    Let me hear your thoughts...

    Cheers,
    Wil
     
  2. Grant Nelson
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    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    Overall, the area is huge, but the concentration of material is low, 5.1 milligrams per square meter. So processing will require a lot of energy, which could come from the material itself, but if this is going to work someone has to make money, or Bill Gates has to fund it.

    Wikipedia info:

    In April 2008, Richard Sundance Owen, a building contractor and scuba dive instructor, formed the Environmental Cleanup Coalition to address the issue of the pollution in the North Pacific. ECC is collaborating with other groups to come up with methods to safely remove plastic and persistent organic pollutants from the oceans.[1][26]

    The JUNK raft project was a trans-Pacific sailing voyage from June to August 2008 made to highlight the plastic in the patch, organised by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.[27][28][29]

    Project Kaisei is a project to study and cleanup the garbage patch launched in March 2009. In August 2009 two vessels from the project, the New Horizon and the Kaisei, embarked on a voyage to research the patch and determine the feasibility of a commercial scale collection and recycling operation.[30]

    The SEAPLEX expedition, a group of graduate students from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, spent 19 days on the ocean in August researching the garbage patch and its effects on marine life. They took samples and spread awareness of the patch, two steps essential to the beginning of the cleaning-up process.[31]

    The Plastiki is a boat building project by David Mayer de Rothschild hoping to highlight cleanup issues and sustainable plastic technologies.
     
  3. Tiny Turnip
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    it would seem that the processing element of the issue has many variables. even bringing the plastics back to land and processing or burying in a non leaking landfill would probably be preferable to leaving the stuff drifting about the ocean. If there is onboard processing, I wouldnt think there is any advantage in building out of the drifting plastics- a lovely idea but too many difficulties?- build an appropriate vessel/barge and be content with the good it is doing.
    But seeing as the natural forces of current, waves, wind have gathered this stuff into an area of the ocean, would it be possible to devise a 'passive' collector, which, once let off the leash in the plastics pool, 'drifted' about, powered by sails/vanes/whatever, and utilising floats, booms, tentacles, whatever, naturally collected the debris? Might such a device even be unmanned?
     
  4. Tiny Turnip
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    great idea for a thread btw.
     
  5. wellmer
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    wellmer New Member

    looks like we have a paradox - nobody seems to doubt the viability of designing and constructing floating plastic processing industries, cities, ships, boats, and businesses - as long as you can relay on sufficiently large and dense plastic sources. The 100 million tons of plastic floating out there might still not be sufficient, to justify the effort - there is still too much ocean between the (confetti like) plastic pieces - not enough plastic to make it work.

    On the other hand there is little chance to clean this up as a "green minded effort" - only "industries that can sustain themselves" can clean a ocean, a continent, or the planet.

    - The aluminium and steel recycling industry have cleaned the landscape from alu beer containers and scrap metal in just a few years. - i am optimistic - designing devices to help the ocean currents to concentrate the stuff sufficiently will be the main design effort i assume.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2009
  6. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Have you seen the movie "Zoolander"? In it there is a great idea about a new fashion called "Derelict". Your mining of garbage would be the ideal source of raw materials for this line. Also, the proximitiy of sweat shops would make transportation cheap.
     
  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Bananas

    Perhaps some kind of baleen filter could sift the plastic, but the cost in destroyed plankton might outweigh the benefits, while starving erstwhile plankton feeders.
     
  8. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Floating debris is a great habitat for marine life. Some people have an aestetic problem with it though.
     
  9. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Bananas

    Ever seen a sea gull with a 6-pack ring around its torso? Ugly.
     
  10. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Yes I have. However, that is not all that is floating.
     
  11. waldoswhere
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    waldoswhere Junior Member

    garbage

    Yes there is a problem ...with the floating garbage...but there is a soulution...we can recycle tire and plasctic and get enough oil out and gas torun it self and make pure carbon it would take billions ...warren buffet just put in 35billion ...in the railroads in north amercia and mexico...so why not a fleet of super tankers off shore..
     
  12. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Willy,

    What happened to your c-sub project, did you give up?

    Destructive testing too much for you to handle?

    Tom
     
  13. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    unfortunately just a dream! When your harvest is 5mg per m² (if you catch 100%), you need 20m² per gram, 20.000 per kg, 20 square km per tonne, 500 square km per day! How will you harvest that? You could collect debris from 2 square km per day thats 100kg raw material = 80 kg med. destillate maximum. To collect the crap you will burn that in 15 minutes.

    I replied here:
    One must not crack the stuff. If the process stays below 400°C no dioxine and furane is built up.
    It can be converted to Diesel fuel of the highest quality. The technology is a low temp. pressureless catalytic depolymerisation. A standard industrial plant, capable of processing 700kg hr is about 5mio US$ and could be installed on a ship. When the input material is plastic and biodegradables only, the output will be around 80 to 85% Diesel fuel.
    But!
    We are not talking about a garbage dump here! This plastic stuff is smaller than confetti and does not float at the surface.
    So, collecting it becomes a real challenge.
    When you calculate the density is about 5mg per m² and there are 4 particles in the m² at the points with high density, you have a clue about the task. Then you must not forget, it floats between zero and 10 meters below surface.
    To harvest the crap you need to dig through 20 to 40 square km a day and you´ll catch each and everything in that area down to 10 meter depth. You cannot separate the plastic from marine life.
    The plant will treat it right, no problem. But you leave a desert behind your ship.
    Technically not that big a task, and cost will be reasonable too, but profitable, no. Cost for the process is around 0,23€ per liter Diesel in a landbased plant. (assuming the input material is a homogenous mix, and for free)
    A plant on a ship will have about twice the cost min. and the harvest apparatus will need so much energy that you probably produce just enough Diesel to "keep the stack smoking".

    Regards
    Richard
     
  14. waldoswhere
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    waldoswhere Junior Member

    you got the wrong guy tom ...it is waldo (wally) here in mexico
     

  15. waldoswhere
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    waldoswhere Junior Member

    what machine are you talking about ...we are looking at differant machines at this time ...have found a good reactor and have figureed out how to feed it continusly..with no 0 2 in the system we are about readdy to but onee inmexico
     
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