Experimental Project to Clean Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch

Cleaning up the ocean and making biofuels? It sounds like a good idea. (Photo: Francisco Antunes [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

I've been covering the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for the past year or so and just wrote about it here on MNN last week. To recap, there's a giant patch of ocean between the west coast of the U.S. and Japan that's full of plastic. The swirling ocean currents create a massive eddy of sea that's larger than the continental United States that collects and aggregates an untold amount of plastic trash.

The problem is so big, it can get hard to wrap your head around how to actually fix it. It seems impossible to clean up that much trash in such a large area. It's easy to get depressed when confronted with the enormity of the situation.

Unless you're a member of Project Kaisei, an audacious plan that will attempt to filter out larger pieces of plastic from the sea to turn into diesel fuel. To prove their concept, they will spend four days this summer sailing the oceans off Hawaii and hope to scoop 40 tons of plastic out for conversion to diesel fuel.

I admit that I have my doubts that this will prove to be a viable solution. The problem is SO big that it's hard to see filtering being a economically sound fix anytime soon. I'll be watching this closely; I hope I'm proven wrong.

[Project Kaisei] via [EarthFirst]