Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS) has developed a concept for efficient large-scale collection of plastic from the oceans, a press release stated.
The solution uses the inherent benefits of seismic vessels and takes advantage of their air compressors and capabilities for handling large towing configurations.
Each year, eight million tons of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans—equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the sea every minute. If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two garbage trucks per minute by 2030 and four garbage trucks per minute by 2050.
The PGS plastic collection concept consists of a seismic vessel and a support vessel towing booms, in a fan formation, which are connected to a processing unit at the end of the spread.
The uniqueness of the seismic vessel is its large onboard compressors, which usually supply the seismic source. These are instead used to pump air through a ventilated hose towed at about 50 m (164 ft) water depth between the seismic ship and the support vessel. The air bubbles attach to the submerged plastic, which then rises to the sea surface, just like bubbles are attracted to a straw in a glass of sparkling water.
The processing unit at the end of the collection spread separates organic materials from plastic. The latter is compressed and packaged into super-strong synthetic skins. Once full, each skin section is marked by GPS and AIS, ready to be collected and towed to a processing facility for recycling.