One of the aims of The Ocean Cleanup is to develop technologies to extract plastic pollution from the world’s oceans. Several concepts of passive floating systems were considered that are supposed to confine plastics to ease their collection. Such concepts consist of a floating member and a submerged flexible skirt and have in common that their span is generally more than 500 meters. Consequently, fluid-structure interaction plays an important role in the response of such a floating system. To support numerical simulations, MARIN carried out extensive model tests on a 120 meter system section of the final concept, with focus on the fluid-structure interaction (FSI) of the submerged skirt in operating conditions and in towing configuration. The ability to capture plastics was not investigated in these model tests. Novel for wave-basin tests were non-intrusive measurements using underwater Digital Image Correlation (DIC) to obtain the displacements and deformations of the flexible skirt. DIC proved to be a capable measurement technique for this type of structure in combination with a wave basin. Detailed quantitative data on skirt motions and deformations were delivered and the last concept of the cleanup system was tested in the towing configuration and operational configuration.

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