7 September 2010
Last night in a dream I was working out how to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
I had decided that any solution was going to require at least one semi-submersible dynamically-positioned industrial harvesting facility, and realized that the best way to "feed" the floating detritus into the plant would be to use a couple of long pontoons in a V shape, facing into the flow of a part of the North Pacific Gyre.
I couldn't decide whether the goal should be to convert the yield, mostly plastic, into fuel (a process for which we'd have to invent the technology) or to compress it, then sink it to the ocean floor.
The facility, in my sleeping logic, would have to be energy-self-sufficient (after all, we're trying to clean the planet, not screw it up worse.) If our plastic-to-fuel technology worked, that would answer the question. If not, we'd have to use the power of the ocean.
This was a quandary at first, because the power within the gyre's current itself the greatest force in the equation would be consumed in maintaining any "dynamic positioning." (I couldn't remember that phrase in my dream, and looked it up. It had been in the news when the Deepwater Horizon blew up and fell over.)
Of course, we could harness the power of the waves... yes, that would be it. The waves exert a force that is independent of current.
If the plastic were convertible into an ecologically-friendly fuel, then that's what we would use and it's also what we'd do with [that part of] the material. If we weren't able to do that with it, then we'd have to get rid of it somehow.
That was where we'd have to consider sinking it. Of course I was worried about the effects of toxins whether from the plastics themselves or from the various non-plastic unknowns in the mix.
I didn't think about the absorption by plastics of oily contaminants, because I didn't read about that until after I awoke.