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August 17, 2009

Plastic Soup and Project Kaisei

I've written a few times about the massive explosion of plastic that has taken over our oceans - flowing from our rivers and boats to the place where the currents meet. They call this the North Pacific Garbage patch - it isn't a solid island but more of a plastic soup where debris can be found hundreds of meters below sea level and spread out hundreds of miles across.

Project Kaisei is out to study this soup and see what we can do about it:

Project Kaisei consists of a team of innovators, scientists, environmentalists, ocean lovers, sailors, and sports enthusiasts who have come together with a common purpose. To study the North Pacific Gyre and the marine debris that has collected in this oceanic region, to determine how to capture the debris and to study the possible retrieval and processing techniques that could be potentially employed to detoxify and recycle these materials into diesel fuel. This first research expedition, scheduled for the summer of 2009, will be critical to understanding the logistics that would be needed to launch future clean-up operations and testing existing technologies that have never been utilized under oceanic conditions.

While I am not a fan of "recycling" anything into fuel (seems about as plausible to me as burning trash for energy) I am excited about a team of people actually studying this stuff and thinking about how we can clean it up. They seem to have an awesome communications team with them, who combining with Google Earth can show you where they are and give you super cool very short videos about what they are finding and learning.

Now if only we can figure out how to prevent this "waste" in the first place...