GarBarge - An Ocean of Possibilities: My Engagement to the Steemstem Community

in steemstem •  7 months ago


Image Source: Mark Anderson Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 License with editing by @CSUSBgeochem1 using GIMP

By Your Powers Combined.....

Hows everyone today? About a week ago the #steemstem management started posting engagements to bring about a more cohesive and collaborative community. @kryzsec initiated a Hyperloop engagement to which many others including myself responded with great ideas. That engagement is still ongoing so if you feel you would like to add to any ideas you can visit @kryzsec's initial post HERE. @procrastilearner soon followed up with a collaborative post titled My Map of the Scientific Process - A Request For Discussion, Debate, Agreement, Disagreement and Jokes. His topic was a little more complex for me to create a whole post so I commented on what I wanted to say. If you feel you may have something to add about the Scientific Process please travel to his post and comment, or even better yet, engage him and everyone else with a post of your own!

A few days ago @branbello posted a nice spat on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch titled A Sea of Garbage - An "Informative" Rant were he brings up an absolutely important topic that encompasses the entire planet and all of us at Steemit; Trash (especially plastics) is destroying our oceans and there is not ONE SINGLE government taking hold on fixing the issue. With all the advancements in technology, we leave the planet to rot. My engagement to the Steemstem Community as well as everyone on steemit is:

HOW WOULD YOU GO ABOUT CLEANING ALL THIS TRASH UP? WHAT SORT OF TECHNOLOGIES OR IDEAS WOULD YOU USE?

Problem

Now a little background on the issue at hand. Trash is filling our oceans at an exponential rate and plastics make up a large portion of that trash. A Popular Science article titled Guess How Many Giant Patches Of Garbage There Are in The Ocean Now explains:

A recent study found that since the 1950s humans have made 9.1 billion tons of plastic; equivalent to the weight of 93,000 of the world’s heaviest aircraft carriers.

Popular Science further states:

Gyres are large systems of circulating ocean currents, kind of like slow-moving whirlpools. Though the oceans are home to many gyres, there are five—the North Atlantic Gyre, the South Atlantic Gyre, the North Pacific Gyre, the South Pacific Gyre, and the Indian Ocean Gyre—that have a significant impact on the ocean. The big five help drive the so-called oceanic conveyor belt that helps circulate ocean waters around the globe. But in doing so, they also draw in the pollution that we release in coastal areas.


Image Author: Fangz, Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The New York Times wrote a similar article titled Choking The Oceans With Plastic which adds:

Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Pushed by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones, known to oceanographers as gyres, which comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet’s ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth.

The Article further goes on to bring up the very fact I stated above (at least as of the date the article was printed and to the best of my knowledge) and that is:

No scientist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, national or international government agency has yet been able to establish a comprehensive way of recycling the plastic trash that covers our land and inevitably blows and washes down to the sea.

And no continent nor island, no matter how isolated on this planet they may be, is immune from the effects of ocean trash

The Chicago Tribune notes in an article titled Scientists find 38 million pieces of trash on Pacific island:

The researchers say the density of trash was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, despite Henderson Island's extreme remoteness. The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Henderson Island is located in the South Pacific. In the North Pacific, the effects of trash are already taking their toll on the wildlife. An article writen on Scienceline.org titled For Midway Atoll’s birds, plastic is the main dish, details these effects:

Plastic is so ubiquitous on Midway that every single albatross on the island will likely die with a stomach full of it. A typical albatross stomach includes “stuff about the size of a cigarette lighter – everything from golf balls to shotgun shells, or chunks of plastic that used to be something bigger,” according to Bret Wolfe, deputy manager of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. When birds die and decompose, the plastic in their guts remains. “Anywhere you see a big pile of plastic but nothing else,” Wolfe said, “that’s where an albatross died.”


Image Author: USFWS - Pacific Region, Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


Garbage Patch Visualization Experiment

Image Source:NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's flikr, Creative Commons 2.0 License

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's flikr has a great video titled Garbage Patch Visualization Experiment, also linked above through the picture, which shows the flow of this garbage throughout the world.

So just how small does the plastic in this trash actually get? Phys.org put out an article titled Plastic between your toes that describes:

They found that every kilogram of sand on European beaches contained on average 250 fragments of microplastic. In some locations the number can be even higher, a spot in Iceland had 700 microplastics per kilogram, in Italy it was as high as 1,500 per kilogram. Bosker has already found relatively high levels in the Netherlands, with 500 fragments per kilo on the beach near to The Hague. These findings were part of a larger-scale investigation of microplastics on European beaches. The researchers, both of whom are affiliated to Leiden University College and the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Leiden University, analysed a total of 23 locations in 13 different European countries.

Now it seems that as the plastic breaks down its leaching Bisphenol A into the Ocean creating a toxic concoction. National Geographic spells out in an article titled
Plastic Breaks Down in Ocean, After All -- And Fast
:

Left behind in the water were the same compounds detected in the ocean samples, such as styrene trimer, a polystyrene by-product, and bisphenol A, a chemical used in hard plastics such as reusable water bottles and the linings of aluminum cans.

The article further articulates:

Plastic hits marine creatures with a double whammy, Moore said. Along with the toxic chemicals released from the breakdown of plastic, animals also take in other chemicals that the plastic has accumulated from outside sources in the water.

Now that I have conveyed the dire nature of the situation, lets look at how it is being handled currently.

Possible Solutions

In an article written by Sierraclub.org titled The Great Pacific Garbage Patch they claim two organizations have put forth ideas of how to clean up the trash, stating:

The team from SAS Ocean Phoenix, a maritime engineering company based in the South of France, wants to tackle the trash problem with a massive cleanup ship, as big as the world's largest supertanker, which would ply the polluted Pacific. The boat would suck ocean water into chambers between its parallel hulls, where a series of filters would catch first the big chunks of plastic, then successively smaller pieces.

The same article also describes an organization by the name of Ocean Cleanup with a different idea:

Two 30-mile-long floating booms would catch plastic debris in screens that descended into the water, and their V shape would naturally funnel the waste toward a central collection platform. A small prototype boom is currently being tested in the North Sea.

The more I tried looking for other persons trying to clean up the ocean, the more I was linked back to this company The Ocean Cleanup and its young founder. Engineering and Technology has an article titled Cleaning Up The Great Pacific Garbage Patch that describes his success:

Boyan Slat, TOC’s charismatic young founder, came up with his array design while studying aerospace engineering at Delft University of Technology. No one would take the technology forward until Slat gave a TEDx Delft talk in 2012, ‘How the Oceans can Clean Themselves’. Since then, he has raised over $2m in crowdfunding from more than 38,000 funders in 160 countries.


Vimeo screenshot, Author: designboom, labeled for reuse

I would like to put forth a series of ideas for you to either build upon, outright deny or just bring about discussion. That was the point of this post

My thoughts circulate (no pun intended) around the idea that most of this garbage resides as plastic and that plastic can be recycled into oil, which is essentially used by every country. Sciencealert.com has an interesting article titled Holy Crap. Watch This Guy Turn Plastic Back Into Oil. which describes:

YouTuber Ichini Shichi, shows the surprisingly simple process of converting plastic waste back into the oil from whence it came. In it, a Japanese man takes plastic containers, bottles and bags, shoves them all in a machine and then, hey presto, out comes diesel, kerosene and gasoline. It looks so easy it makes you wonder why we're not doing this all the time. Well, there's a reason for that - the process is known as anhydrous pyrolysis, and despite how simple it looks, it's unfortunately not considered very effective because it uses up a lot more energy than it creates.

Now if energy is the issue why wouldn't countries like Iceland be onboard for cleaning the planet. The country is already experiencing a flood of crypto miners. The Gaurdian.com explains why in an article titled
How Iceland became the bitcoin miners’ paradise
:

The answer is simple: location, location and volcanoes. Volcanoes provide Iceland with a cheap and abundant form of renewable energy. Geothermal and hydroelectric plants abound on the island, driving down the wholesale cost of power, which lets bitcoin miners make higher profits as they run their computers 24/7, 365 days a year.

With cheap energy at their fingertips Iceland could build the infrastructure to provide for a large scale operation to break this plastic down. At the same time they could sell the oil on the open market to make up any losses. Not only would they help clean the oceans, all future "garbage" could be exported to Iceland to be broken down. A deal could be worked out somehow to benefit Iceland in the long run. More "recycled" oil could enter the market and drilling operations could wane down. So now that I have proposed an idea of how all that plastic garbage would be processed, lets get into my idea of how it would be captured.

One of my ideas of entrapment was echoed when I read the article above by the Sierraclub.org when they mentioned the SAS Ocean Phoenix and utilizing a cleanup ship. The design described in that article would work perfect, but not just for one ship. Why not pass new maritime laws that require all supertankers be retrofitted with these filtration systems. There honestly is enough maritime traffic that if even a small percentage of the supertankers circling the globe were outfitted with this technology It could potentially make a huge impact.

My second idea is partly inline with what the The Ocean Cleanup is doing, the only issue I have with their design is those booms don't do a great enough job at funneling the trash towards the trapping device. The waves and motion of the ocean are expected to eventually funnel the trash to this device and in my opinion that seems inefficient. My thoughts are to speed up the water toward the trap by building a device similar to a Bell Siphon.

Bell Siphons are used in aquaponics and hydroponics systems to drain and fill the grow bed hands free. The Youtube video below produced by Practical Engineering does a great job at describing how a Bell Siphon works.

Now I would build this design to be free floating and as it fills it would draw water down into the trap below the water line. Floating pool baskets have similar designs and a Youtube video produced by Skim-A-Round does an excellent job of showing exactly the concept I would incorporate.

Instead of allowing the water through the basket, a catch basin would fill up like the Bell Siphon, allowing all the trash floating on the surface to fall down with it. This would accelerate the water toward the device, not just relying on the wave motion to bring the trash. The device would fill until its able to siphon, somehow allowing the clean water back down into the ocean underneath and around the floating basin. There would be a filter to not allow the plastic to flow through the siphon. As the contraption drains and refills, more trash is drawn in until the contraption is filled. I have yet to figure out how to create enough pressure to allow water to flow out of the siphon into the ocean. Also the device would need to have some way of not allowing the trash to "backflow" out into the ocean once its filled with enough garbage.

With a sizable amount of oil platforms all around the worlds oceans, a few of these devices could be strapped to the pylons that hold them up, being offloaded frequently as roughnecks depart the rigs. Also, because this device would be built utilizing UV and chemical resistant plastics (yes I know, ironic) salt water would have no detrimental effects.

These were just my ideas when considering how I would go about cleaning up these giant garbage patches. Please feel free to engage in this post or post your own reply on why my ideas may not work, or how you could improve them. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Sources Used
Popular Science: Want More?
The New York Times
The Chicago Tribune
Science Line: The Shortest Distance Between You And Science
Phys.org
National Geographic: Reporting Your World Daily
Sierra Magazine: The National Magazine Of The Sierra Club
Engineering And Technology
Science Alert
The Guardian: US Edition

Above animation and cover photo created by @csusbgeochem1 using GIMP

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We could make automated robots/boats that go about collecting trash throughout the ocean.

·

There are small-scale systems like this in place already. It's a good concept but not effective on a wide scale, yet. Works wonders around marinas and boat docks though!

Thanks for mentioning my little rant and glad it kind of got you fired up to write this wonderful post.

I believe a small-scale version of

Instead of allowing the water through the basket, a catch basin would fill up like the Bell Siphon, allowing all the trash floating on the surface to fall down with it.

this is already in place. It's definitely a first step towards cleaning the ocean and its environment, but large-scale would cause greater issues with this type in my opinion.

Viable Local Solution?

Gather & melt for gas? As illustrated by this (LMGTFY) #Japanese #Inventor reported on BigThink by author Maria Popova.

Contemplation

Alas, Eye fear we are naive as to the sheer scale of this plastic particulate degradation and the implications for all of life to come the next 50-150 years.
We're forced to observe how nature will incorporate it throughout flora & fauna.
The sooner we stop using, buying and start cleaning up, the less of an evolutionary backlash for generations to come across the globe.

Alternatives?

There was also this younger #Chinese inventor that suggested autonomous drone fleets etc et al.

#Lots of #Work #Opportunity (screaming out loud)

Introspection and reflecting

But the change starts with ME, do I buy something in a plastic wrapping, or not? Can I pick that PET-bottle up to the closest thrash can, or not? Do I perhaps have the opportunity to start a plastic-petroleum venture in a nation that disregards this lucrative waste product?
#Human #Waste is #Big #Dollars

And now I'm beyond bored focusing on this gargantuan issue, only one amongst even larger and more pressing matters in a world of #Archons.

Adieu 🙏