Open Source Plastica Flotilla

Big is beautiful...for plastic in the ocean.

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch ( is located in a convergence zone roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N. What it is not, is a simple heaping pile of landfill. What it is, is a 1 million+ square kilometer patch of ocean filled with photodegradated plastic, aka particulates. These millimeter pieces are not susceptible to larger ocean currents. Clean up projects have all proposed large ocean going vessels sucking up the debris which would require vast wealth, maintenance and capitalistic profit margins. What we are proposing is letting hackers do what they do on the small scale and setting lose a flotilla of robotic-esque bonders.

Each PlaFla is roughly 2' x 2', powered by solar and a simple microprocessor (demo will use an Arduino -- who might pitch in?) A heating element hangs below each vessel. Once the solar power reaches critical battery charge, the ion positive charged element attract and melts plastic particulates, bonding them in to larger pieces. Once power is low, the element and plastic immediately cools, the battery recharges and once high, carbon scrapers via hydraulic pistons, remove the larger plastic flotsam...and the cycle repeats. These larger pieces over time will be more susceptible to ocean currents and/or eased removal, thus either they drift to some shore line to be eaten by children or retrieved with nets in greater ease and sold for 3D plastic extrusion. GPS and 2 small electric motors will adjust position several times per day, stealing a cycle from the charge, to aid in maintaining position with the patch.

We are designing and building PlaFla1. When demonstrated as a working model ON THE CHEAP, it will be released in full detail to the hacker community, implying not to contribute money to the project but build their own. Modify it, make it better, larger, smaller. Then when numerous units are built, they will be released in to the patch and set about their business with no attention, maintenance, or loss to ponder. It will be a small investment for an overwhelmingly positive cause.

Stay tuned.

  • 1 × Foam One giant piece of friggin' foam
  • 1 × Heating Elements Scavenged from broken toaster ovens?
  • 1 × Arduino Uno

  • 118/075

    Vije Miller04/28/2015 at 23:07 0 comments

    Testing with in parameters and failed to garner even relatively positive, *dust hands* I'm out. Stay tuned for numerous non-prize projects.

  • 115/075

    Vije Miller04/25/2015 at 18:16 0 comments

    Scavenged heating elements scavenged. Testing all this week and next.

  • 98-075 OTC

    Vije Miller04/08/2015 at 16:41 0 comments

    Scheduling preliminary tests for the end of next week. Craigslist a blender?

  • 97-075 OTC

    Vije Miller04/07/2015 at 22:26 0 comments

    Calculating electrical requirements versus cost effectiveness for mass production, have decided to reduce to ONE heating element and TWO pistons. Stay tuned...

  • 96-075 OTC

    Vije Miller04/06/2015 at 23:53 0 comments page initiated. I feel dirty.

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Dylan Bleier wrote 05/06/2015 at 00:21 point

you could use this to clean up the oceans by autonomously trawling for floaty plastic bits.  you're probably better off propelling two of these with a fine net between them to scoop up the big pieces of junk than you are trying to actually melt the plastic with such minimal power in a remote location.  Your heating element is going to suck up a shit-ton of power to get to the necessary temps to melt plastic in the water because it's literally water cooled.  (a shit-ton is a highly precise scientific term equal to exactly over 9000 W)

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