But as Slat, now 24, recently discovered with the beta tester for his design, plastic occasionally drifts out of its U-shaped funnel. The other issue with the beta tester, called System 001, is that last week, a 60-feet-long end section broke off.
…”In principle, I think we are relatively close to getting it working,” Slat said in an interview Saturday with NPR’s Michel Martin. “It’s just that sometimes the plastic is also escaping again. Likely what we have to do is we have to speed up the system so that it constantly moves faster than the plastic.”
For the material failure, Slat said his team will probably try to locally reinforce the system to combat the problem of material fatigue.
“If you have a paper clip and you move that back and forward many times, essentially the material gets weaker,” he said. “That’s likely what has happened with material of the cleanup system.”
…He estimates that about 8 million metric tons of plastic go into the ocean each year — roughly the equivalent of one dump truck full of plastic every minute.