Gallery: 19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,2...


19-year-old Boyan Slat has unveiled plans to create an Ocean Cleanup Array that could remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world’s oceans. The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms that could be dispatched to garbage patches around the world. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel. The angle of the booms would force plastic in the direction of the platforms, where it would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling.

At school, Boyan Slat launched a project that analyzed the size and amount of plastic particles in the ocean’s garbage patches. His final paper went on to win several prizes, including Best Technical Design 2012 at the Delft University of Technology. Boyan continued to develop his concept during the summer of 2012, and he revealed it several months later at TEDxDelft 2012.

Slat went on to found The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization which is responsible for the development of his proposed technologies. His ingenious solution could potentially save hundreds of thousands of aquatic animals annually, and reduce pollutants (including PCB and DDT) from building up in the food chain. It could also save millions per year, both in clean-up costs, lost tourism and damage to marine vessels.

It is estimated that the clean-up process would take about five years, and it could greatly increase awareness about the world’s plastic garbage patches. On his site Slat says, “One of the problems with preventive work is that there isn’t any imagery of these ‘garbage patches’, because the debris is dispersed over millions of square kilometres. By placing our arrays however, it will accumulate along the booms, making it suddenly possible to actually visualize the oceanic garbage patches. We need to stress the importance of recycling, and reducing our consumption of plastic packaging.” To find out more about the project and to contribute, click here.

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  1. Ivory Lady November 6, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Thia gentleman/teenager is GOD\\\’s gift to us…giving us a chance to live in world that would be free from debris that Us humans have created….Hope that our fellow humans realize the damage and correct our lifestyle….our attitude toward trash…..

  2. robot14 October 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    One would think that with all that money and power, the corporations and governmentals would use that mighty power to rescue their revenue stream. If the pollution they cause kill all of us, they won’t make any money. That simple.

  3. oldestkestner October 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Ken Hatch…I call BS on you…I challenge YOU to come up with a solution, YOU do the research, YOU finance it..then, and only then, will I give any credence to your crappy opinion. Step up Mr. Big Mouth and lets see if YOU can do it!!!

  4. Rod Steckler October 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    This young environmentalist should be most generously rewarded; both for his concern and his creative ambition…Kudos, my friend. Kudos and sincere thanx from all of us.

  5. Don Jordan August 30, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    The potential is limitless for cleaning up the planet from plastics to misguided farming techniques with chemicals. Egypt developed a 5000 year empire from the earthworm. Every field needs a dumptruck of earthworms loaded into it to enrich the soil and make it continually productive avoiding fallow years due to the earthworm. Growing up my dad would bring leaves in from other yards to put in our yard to decay and enrich the soil. Lets not get in a hurry with chemicals the price to pay comes down the road instead use natural organic techniques. Whole Foods has taken a stand but the limitless organic geometric progression of earthworm is still in its infancy.

  6. Cynthia Sperry August 30, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    many cruise ships are dumping tons of garbage into the sea at night, under the cover of darkness. One employee said that a majority of guest rooms were madeover with new drapes during days at sea, and the old drapes for hundreds of guest rooms were discarded into the ocean. Cruise ships know they are being charged for trash and waste PER POUND in cruiseship ports. They are reckless and need to be monitored with secret cameras and incentives for whistleblowers on board. They should be heavily fined!! This invention is wonderful and will be very helpful as well, great job tho the kid who invented it, I hope he makes a million bucks!

  7. cindyskr July 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Great concept. I had envisioned a solar-powered, giant trash compactor with the hopes of turning floating trash into man-made sunken reefs, but this idea looks even better.

  8. Alex Roy July 22, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    There is no “silver bullet” to fixing any problem; those days are over…if you believe there is “one solution to everything” then you do not even comprehend the problem (let alone are able to attempt a solution). I agree that reductions in plastic consumption and beach clean ups are one (cheap and easy)solution that could make a difference, not fix it, just help it. Plus it doesn’t require wasting money on a child’s naive dream.

  9. Renate Mueller July 19, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Dear Boyan Slat.
    I am certainly interested in your invention and pleased that someone at last is trying to find a solution to this huge problem in our oceans. Please note, this problem also exists on land, with small pieces of plastic eventually finding their way into our food-chain. I spent 10 years picking-up rubbish on our Peninsula and this included plastic pieces of all sizes, which has gone into recycling. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to collect rubbish, as my arms are aching too much. Yours sincerely ex rubbish volunteer, Renate Mueller.

  10. Jack Mars July 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I have come up with a use for the mounts of plastic your collecting. You can view my concept on You Tube by going to, city farmer jack, and viewing the video called, urban art. Those deck spindles were made of stained glass & wood but by mooring a manufacturing vessel near the mounds of plastic plenty of construction materials can be made using that plastic. Just think you could employ returning veterans and reduce the deforestation of our trees. Great work your going. Good Luck. (:-D

  11. Rich Cat June 16, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Kudos to you. Something must be done to help the ocean life. may i suggest one thing.
    A way to lower costs and think laterally…its has been said, by some. A new land will be created by the poor of the world using the trash the ocean collects in these spots/vortexes. The new land will not have the same land fees we find in our lives now, people will raft together items and slowly a new free thinking floating land mass will develop…you could very well be the start of this and I wonder, how could we collect the rubbish and hold it in such a way it becomes a floating land mass, bit like the reed beds that some use to plant their crops on. What do you think? Good luck.

    Richcat from New Zealand

  12. thassig May 20, 2014 at 1:10 am

    I am a marine biologist and have spent a considerable amount of time and effort cleaning marine debris from the ocean and coastal zones. I appreciate the design and concept created here and think that there is potential. BUT if you have ever observed trash in the ocean you will see that it is often home to tons of marine life including juvenile fish and invertebrates such as mussels. My question is would this contraption account for the marine life that lives amongst marine debris? And if yes then how? Also what if an endangered species such as a sea turtle is harvested with the trash- would there be some type of TED like is used on commercial shrimping vessels?

  13. jdur1554 May 1, 2014 at 10:09 am

    if i could make a pay check to provide for my family,ill work and operate this for 6 months out of the year

  14. gotsnow April 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    yey I can draw pretty things with no structural integrity yippie!

  15. Joy Tracy April 4, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you – brilliant young man!

  16. Linda Day April 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    And 2 years later this still hasn’t been implemented in any country, WHY?!

  17. waseem March 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    We treat the planet like someone’s personal garbage bin, and no one is responsible for the clean up, and there is no problem that comes out of our constant littering in major and minor cities around the world. I think that this is awesome travel gifts for men

  18. waseem March 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Hi I am so interested in your project. I would like to help if at all possible. I live in Colorado.

  19. vcx March 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Good a fine idea and design. Now we can go and have a convenient life style away from idiots whose purpose in life is to control others.

  20. Steve Tuter March 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    kids a genious

  21. Michael Peterson March 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

    If you can put solar panels on the top of the ship, it could run fuel free. It could even be remotely controlled.

  22. MjJPl February 27, 2014 at 7:47 am

    There should be docks around it or something for better foothold and safety during maintenance.

  23. alenodey January 21, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Great!! it will definitely create lots of inspiration for others.

  24. psimko January 20, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Hi I am so interested in your project. I would like to help if at all possible. I live in Colorado.

  25. Christoph Messner January 19, 2014 at 10:40 am

    People, why don\\\’t you make a list of the pastic bag producer\\\’s addresses?

  26. OpenGangBangStyle January 14, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    i would just like to say that i think that this will work and your arguement is invalid :3

  27. MoshStyle January 6, 2014 at 9:51 am


    The last couple of months several (spontaneous) articles have been published, claiming The Ocean Cleanup Array is a ‘feasible method’ of extracting plastic from the gyres.
    This is an incorrect statement; we are currently only at about halfway our feasibility study. Only after finishing that study, we believe such statements should be made. Although the preliminary results look promising, and our team of about 50 engineers, modellers, external experts and students is making good progress, we had and have no intention of presenting a concept as a feasible solution while still being in investigative phase.

    Please stay tuned for this study, which will be published online in several months’ time.
    We kindly request the press to refrain from any further publication, until all assumptions of this concept have been confirmed.

    We expect the feasibility study to be ready for publication around the end of this year.

    Thank you.” -

  28. Keith Martin January 5, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Look people. He\\\’s a Kid…. KID…. do we hear any other voices trying to fix this?
    If it was a towed array it would work!! Flat out!!! After all a boat can suck up hundreds of tons of fish in a day… HELLO. “Ok boys its crap harvesting season and we are paying .07 cents a pound for everything you bring in that we put out there.” If the government just announced it, the nets would be changed out and the full scale crap harvesting would commence.
    This is the truth and I challenge any millionaire to call me at 541 270 7614 and Ill show you how to make cash from this. SCRAP THE SEAS…. HELLO!!!! What part of free money are we not seeing?

  29. Ken Hatch January 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    This needs to go away, it has zero ability to do what is described. This device is vulnerable to surface debris. This device cannot be anchored in the locations specified due to height of water column, This device cannot work for so many reasons totally obvious to anyone that has actually worked in, on, or around the ocean. It is a rude \\\”hey this should be easy\\\” post inspired by design as an aesthetic function rather then a practical one. Please delete this and give us some actual inspiration. Please post a project from someone that actually did the research to have a realistic solution, this is BS fantasy of a clean bathtub like ocean with plastic conveniently on the surface rather then 90% suspended in the water column. This is an F for fakery in my opinion. A pretty render that fooled the teacher with no maritime experience.
    Also, OMFG they are taking money, WTF? On the webpage it says they need money to do basically everything that should have been done before this got this far, like ask people that are actual maritime experts. This is absolute BS.

  30. Kristianna Thomas December 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    We treat the planet like someone’s personal garbage bin, and no one is responsible for the clean up, and there is no problem that comes out of our constant littering in major and minor cities around the world. I think that this is awesome that he had designed this robo-clean of the oceans, but who is going to build it and when is it going to truck around the world cleaning up our mess?

  31. Amber Beshara December 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    That’s awesome… but how are they going to make sure they don’t collect any marine life from the ocean???

  32. MichaelBradham December 13, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Not a fan of this one. What about all the fishermen who are out of work because they took all the fish? Can they go net up some garbage now?

  33. Rod Stiebel December 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I LOVE this kid!! A man after my own heart. I just read an article about whales dying with 20-35 pound of plastic in their bellies, dying of intestinal blockages. Lets hope a few millionaires like what he has, get philanthropic, invest and DO IT!!
    BRAVO Boyan!!!

  34. GoDeets December 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I took notice of, this is a environment that has existed and watched the human race come and go and to throw are filth in a perfect Eco system. To life living . Do not destroy the Eden of the ocean! This my friends is a necessity, before anyone decides to kick out and leave behind your wrapping throwaways, donate all you can to this war in the sea. I watched the editorial of this young interview and tears filled my eyes. I could not give enough prays to them. Taking responsibility for there actions and yours what a crew! This my friend is a cause worth the buck! Written By Go Deets! a name you know you can trust!

  35. oldsloane November 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    We should force those giant polluting Walmart container ships into towing a collector array behind them when delivering all that China junk to our hemisphere. That would probably collect hundreds of tons of junk each year.

  36. SX November 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    coincidentally the ocean’s jellyfish population seems to be disappearing at the same rate that the plastic bags are being cleaned up.

  37. dardifuntorum November 12, 2013 at 8:25 am

    perfect concept and objectives.

  38. luisdafonte November 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

    lets do it!

  39. tasueefkkhan1510 October 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

    nice project my dream project

  40. Mike Schroder October 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Several improved versions of this concept just entered my mind. Someone mentioned large debris as a problem of this design because the collection arms face forward and funnel small debris through the vessel. But I think that large debris may be able to either float over or under the arms, or spin the vessel 180 until it becomes free to the current. Just in case, the arms could be made to automatically invert upon a certain pressure as to allow the debris such as a log to float past. This feature could also be used to help the vessel move faster as to avoid dangerous waters. Instead of turning 180 or having to only go backwards the vessel could change direction much quicker.

    These things can be gps guided and automated to collect algae as well. Simple straining can allow zooplankton through and back into the ocean as the plastics and phytoplankton can be collected for hydrothermal depolymerization into biocrude, carbon nutrients and syngas.

    The oils can be collected and stored and/or directly processed into fuels acting as mobile fill up stations for vessels at sea. When storage capacity is reached the vessels can drop it off at shore for further processing. Somethings exxon should love.

    The nutrient biproduct from the process is actually a good algae nutrient so it can be released back into the sea or used to more grow algae in a built in photobioreactor. Around the solar panel could be a clear roof to act as the bioreactor. So there goes the issue of over exploiting the plankton mentioned in the critique.

    The photo bioreactor would grow a dense culture of wild algae that produce gases in closed system. Upon maturity the cells are isolated from the media and sent through an oil extraction module which uses sound or electric shock to extract oil but doesnt kill the algae cell. After extraction they may go into the ocean or back into the reactor to produce more oils. Its called wet live extraction.

    The syngas from the hydrolysis process can be used to power a fuel cell with algae hydrogen and methane, which along with solar, wind, and electrolysis, will generate power to be used for the processing and propulsion.

    These functions can all be manned through the internet. We need to I integrate as much technology into this concept for it become viable.

    Some one is also needed to design the algorithms for the program to control them.

  41. Edward Jones October 21, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    A better plan would be to arrest those people at 711s who continue to pass out those plastic bags with impunity.

  42. Natsume Yuki October 21, 2013 at 3:34 am

    its actually a really nice plan

  43. tycho September 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I like the intention here. but it seems reality is a b*tch for this plan.

  44. Nathan Richardson September 24, 2013 at 3:05 am

    if you give money to this kid you aren’t very smart.

  45. Goal Scorer September 18, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Good on him!

  46. Tom Harding September 15, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Excellent idea! Perhaps Bill Gates should divert just of his billions into building a working prototype and then a clutch of them to deploy around our oceans — or would that be too much to ask…

  47. kirillart September 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    How project is going to survive weather like that?

  48. Lisa Theriault September 9, 2013 at 12:27 am

    ….you are going to receive insights from many who are not only educated but experienced in what you are attempting….sadly, you have the innovative courage they may have lacked or attempted yet the “team” didn’t play as such….the world is ready for us now so continue your forward motion no matter the obstacles….follow your intuition and trust those the heart compels you to…onward, forward and assist Mother Earth in purifying the greatest treasure….our oceans for the secrets of the entire Universe are held here.

  49. Lisa Theriault September 9, 2013 at 12:21 am

    you can seperate the debris by using sound…

  50. Adrie Tukker September 7, 2013 at 9:17 am

    If you want to do something great than do it now and act with the things yiu have now! Leave those who has comment without trust behind and follow your dream! It will be the young people I have faith in with my 62 years. Look wath the past generation brought the world, just for their own sake! Even if this invention is not complete it will be in several years with the help of people who want a better world. I hope very soon all the oceans may be covered with this invention. Also look for the possibiliry of using solar energy . Wish you all the succes Boyan

  51. walakasails August 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    You\\\’ll need a lot of barges and tugs, lots of diesel fuel.

  52. Yaniv Tanami August 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    coooool well done !!!!!!!!!!
    This is how to change the world

  53. Herb Neu August 27, 2013 at 10:40 am

    In our cynical and confused society, this reinforces the belief in truth and trust. Bravo for this young man’s vision and actions.

  54. Sean Sbragia August 27, 2013 at 12:13 am

    That would be great but it doesn’t seem to take into account that there is much more than just plastic and plankton floating out there. How would you separate the large debris like trees, tsunami debris, etc. How will these be dealt with and kept from breaking the booms in high seas? I would like to see more about this. It could be a start in the right direction.

  55. Martin Berners August 25, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Wow, this is an extremely welcome move.

    Their site says ‘we are currently only at about 1/4th of completing our feasibility study’ as on date. Whatever be the outcome of their feasibility study, there is no doubt it is a thought-provoking initiative.

    Having lived in a coastal city, where a small river mingles with the sea with all the plastic wastes, I have always wondered how the sea animals can be spared of the toxicity of the tonnes of debris in the ocean. Now I am beginning to see some hope.

    Well done Boyan Slat! All the living beings in the whole earth would be indebted to you for your vision.

  56. Andrew Ward August 16, 2013 at 4:36 am

    What a great idea, I might suggest that you would need a cover over the collect area to prevent the garbage from being dispersed again in stormy weather. Also wouldn’t they get in the way of shipping?

  57. dianepersons June 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    This would be an answer to the tragedy involving albatrosses of the Midway Islands. A film capturing this very sad phenomenon is at

  58. minkajobah June 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    good stuff

  59. Alex Seredin May 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    That is all fine and dandy, if the ocean waves remained the way they are in this photo. But ocean does not cooperate all the time and can destroy this whole platform in few minutes. Better idea would be to develop hundreds of smaller garbage collecting devices operated by sunlight, like automatic vaccuum cleaners and let them roam the ocean

  60. archimald May 30, 2013 at 11:37 am

    What a smart idea… Will never come to life :
    1/ too prone to ships and boats collisions
    2/ How will you control the direction of the current to make your plastic go in your gyre ?
    3/ How will the gyre resist to tempests ?
    4/ how the HUGE gyre’s wings will stand correctly ? Forgot about current, wind and waves ?

  61. shepspear May 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you. Now we can begin to unslobber our oceanic slovenliness. The Queen should knight you (at the very least)for your contribution, I hope the feasibility study comes out all thumbs up.

  62. socalarch May 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    A valiant idea that deserves all the support and research necessary to make it successful.

    Unfortunately it does not solve the source of the problem; the general callousness and foolishness of the human species.

  63. User1 May 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Hooked on plastic. Make a glass bottle and a drive thru return for a discount on the next purchase.

  64. Ingo Bousa May 9, 2013 at 4:37 am

    It’s great to finally see companies taking responsibility for their plastic production and usage. Ecover come to mind with their innovative ‘plantastic’ bottle material.

    “We’re hooked on plastic – future proofing our bottles with the clever mix of Plant-astic, Recycled Plastic and reclaimed Sea Plastic will set new standards in packaging, closing the loop in everyday recycling making it the easy choice for you. Our pledge to you is that we will never stand still when it comes to sustainability.”

  65. John Slaytor May 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I\’m having an a photography exhibition in Sydney called \’The Silent Sea which opens on 30 May 2013 at Gaffa Gallery. It shows what will be left in our seas if we don\’t do something about the plastic in our oceans.

  66. iSustainableEarth May 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    This is a great solution to the issue surrounding how to cleanup the Great Pacific Garbage Patch!

  67. bobbomax April 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm
  68. akhadar444 April 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    wow this is a great site

  69. rafe April 19, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Ok we know where this stuff is at. true? look at where it comes from. address the source. clean up the rivers that push all of this plastic and other trash into the oceans. that is not the only source i know but have we looked at cleaning up the rivers in SE Asia. i live in Bangkok and travel on the ferry boats on the Chao Phraya River. the trash is like a soup, several feet deep in this river. ask anyone that travels this river and they will tell you the same thing i go to Bangsaen often and the beaches are a disgrace. we have to address the issue and that is what? i hate to say anything against the Thai people, but do they really care about thier environment? lets start at the beginning and deal with the reasons why we have these floating rafts of trash in our oceans.

  70. GPT April 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    this is ridiculous. it has absolutely no hpe of proceeding past the gee, wouldn\’t it be nice\” phase. All it takes is a bit of critical thinking to and a brief understanding of the complexity of the issues to realize this is nothing more than a distraction from the real problem of Ocean pollution and a pipe dream at best.

  71. s.shaffizan April 12, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I just comment on 19 year old kid doing his genius project, but now another kid..

    Makes my brain even more small in function

  72. TMcCormick44 April 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Your solution seems to be a good idea I hope you get the funding to see if it works.

  73. amyham5 April 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    allow me to support you!

  74. Joy @ April 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Wow, that thing reminds me of those robotic vacuums that tool around the room on their own. Amazing–I hope it gets put into action SOON. The ocean garbage patches have always been so depressing.

  75. gershom April 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    come visit the Philippines! Please!

  76. cheryl henley April 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    extraordinary invention..let\’s start using is asap!

  77. Shas April 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Be sure to view Boyan’s TED Talk.
    It’s 12 minutes long,
    very engaging and informative and uplifting.

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