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Cleaning up the subtropical gyres 

A recent item on (with an inaccurate headline) linked to a Sydney Morning Herald article reporting on the build up of plastic in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. After reading the article I recalled hearing about using solar powered Autonomous Surface Vessels for harbor security and ocean research, either on the internet or more likely on TV (as I can't seem to find much information about ASVs by searching the internet). The idea then occurred to me that a small fleet of solar powered autonomous plastic skimmers, might be able to play a role in cleaning up the world's subtropical gyres.

Essentially the idea is this:
  1. One or more Collection Vessels, probably solar powered, are fitted with equipment to collect sea surface plastic (and other inorganic garbage) and separate it from sea water and, to the best extent possible, from sea life.
  2. The collected plastic would then be either ground into pellets and stored on board or compacted, bailed, and stored overboard for retrieval and recycling.

Expanding on the basic idea:
  1. One or more additional Transfer Vessels, likely solar and/or wind powered, would rendezvous with the Collection Vessels.
  2. The vessels would then transfer the collected plastic (and other inorganic garbage) to the Transfer Vessel(s).
  3. The Transfer Vessels would then sail to a designated port facility where the plastic could be properly recycled and the and other inorganic garbage properly disposed.

Initially these vessels would likely have to be staffed, but as the techniques are refined and equipment developed, more and more of the work could be automated and remotely monitored.

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