Skip to content

Algae-fueled garbage-patch cleanup


The current Stanford Magazine tipped me off to an appealing effort to clean up the oceans, especially the swirling masses of plastic, which threaten wildlife and the human food supply. The nonprofit GP2 Project aims not only to collect the plastic, but to do so in an environmentally friendly way.

The group hopes to convert their vessels to accept algae fuel and ethanol made from byproducts of beer brewing. As for what to do with all that plastic, one idea is to use intense heat to convert waste materials into a nontoxic, stable carbon char that can be reused as fertilizer.

Scientists researching the impact of ingesting plastic on animals have made troubling, but not surprising, findings. They see that certain plastics interfere with hormone systems, impair development and reproduction, and cause genetic abnormalities. Researchers are now studying how plastics in food from the oceans affects humans. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation is in the midst of studies that should give some answers.

The GP2 Project's maiden expedition was planned for March but is now scheduled for May 1. The goal is to test the technology and start cleaning up plastic. But first there's a small matter of raising $80,000 to lease a ship.

Previously: Epic ocean-cleanup fail, seafood danger ... and why we need better trash
Photo by staceyjeanxo

Popular posts

Biomedical research
Stanford immunologist pushes field to shift its research focus from mice to humans

Much of what we know about the immune system comes from experiments conducted on mice.  But lab mice are not little human beings. The two species are separated by both physiology and  lifestyles. Stanford immunologist Mark Davis is calling on his colleagues to shift their research focus to people.