Inventor James Dyson wants to target ocean pollution by putting vacuum tech on a barge. His idea: Pull plastic debris from rivers before it has a chance to get out to sea.
The ocean plastic pollution problem is currently so vast that one vessel can’t make a dent, but there could be ways to stop debris from reaching the ocean in the first place. British engineer James Dyson, of vacuum cleaner renown, imagines a pollution-trapping barge called the M.V. Recyclone that would filter plastic from rivers. His sketch appeared in Time Magazine.
“By focusing on the polluted rivers, the M.V. Recyclone could tackle a concentrated stream of plastic, catching it before it spreads,” he wrote in Time.
Recently Dyson shared details with Co.Exist’s Ben Schiller. The barge would have large nets that unfurl from rollers at the stern and are operated by hydraulic winches. They’d skim the river surface for floating debris. A suction system would then pull the plastic onboard, where it would be shredded and separated by grade inside a huge cyclone.
Dyson told Co.Exist that the conceptual sketch is the easy part — the real challenges will be in prototyping and testing.
I think he’s smart to concentrate on river pollution. However, he’ll need to keep the recycling costs lower than the cost to operate the barge. Plus I hope he’ll incorporate safeguards so the nets don’t inadvertently pull in fish, plants or small animals. After all, they don’t call it a cyclone for nothing.