Plastic Collection Concept

In June 2017, PGS launched a concept for collecting plastics at sea using seismic vessels. An independent report, published 2018, reviewed the potential and feasibility of the concept. Based on that report we are now seeking academic, funding and technology partners for a full-scale test.

PGS is seeking funding for a full-scale pilot test, along with technology and academic partners,  to test if the PGS plastic collection concept may be valuable in certain areas and during seasons or events when plastic densities are high. 

Feasibility Study

The results of the feasibility study were published in Q3 2018. The study concludes that: "Pelagic microplastic densities are too low for surface plastic collection to be efficient on the open ocean, but densities may be higher in certain areas or during certain seasons, or during flush-out events." A review of synthesis and modeling studies identified areas where plastic could be available in high densities, due to the likelihood of high-input flows from runoff and rivers during wet seasons. These include the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the West Coast of Africa around the North Atlantic Margin.

Technical Study

PGS is now progressing with a more detailed technical study that will include theoretical engineering and hydrodynamics considerations. Discussions are ongoing with potential partners and suppliers for the boom arrangement, bubble curtain, and collection unit.

Plastic-boom-and-collection-systemConceptual drawing of boom and collector bag arrangement with a submerged air hose for generation of an air curtain to lift plastics suspended in the water column to the surface.

Pilot Test

Now we need funding for a full-scale pilot test. Based upon the recommendations in the feasibility study, this would involve a single seismic vessel towing a boom and skirt arrangement with a bubble curtain that lifts plastic to the surface for collection in a permeable collection bag. The test survey would be conducted offshore, over a period of approximately two months in either the Atlantic or the Caribbean.

The purpose of the pilot will be two-fold:

  1. Test the efficiency of the collection concept both offshore and near-shore
  2. Conduct scientific research on the occurrence, density, and characteristics of plastics in the ocean

Academic Research Opportunity

To facilitate scientific research on plastics in the ocean, PGS proposes a large aperture sampling system enabling unprecedented coverage. Academic institutions will be invited to join us, using our vessel for the duration of the pilot to conduct relevant research on plastic pollution in the oceans.