Hydro and Solar Water wheel collects river rubbish for recycling

A brilliant, yet simple invention is keeping the harbour in Baltimore USA cleaner than ever before by slowly hoovering up any trash that strays into its path.

The inventors of the solar and water powered device, Daniel Chase and John Kellett, say their aim is to eventually put themselves out of business. Daniel says:

"Ultimately though, our aim is to put the water wheel out of business, We know that it's an end-of-pipe solution, it's great because it's immediate and innovative but the real solution is that people need to change their behaviour".

 

Origins of the water wheel invention

John says he used to walk across the bridge every day to work where he'd see the trash endlessly floating down the river and would hear numerous tourists talking about how they found the harbour to be a disgusting eyesore. This got him thinking about the problem each time he made his way to work.

He decided to try and think of a way to clear the floating rubbish and came up with the idea for "Mr. Trash Wheel", as it's now known by locals. John teamed up with Daniel and they set out building a behemoth to accomplish their goal.

How the Baltimore Water Wheel Works

The current of the Jones Falls River provides power to the machine by turning a large, partially submerged water wheel. This is connected via a series of chains and pulleys to a conveyor belt which lifts the trash and debris from the water slowly upwards where it's dumped into a large skip-like barge (called a dumpster in America). When the river's current isn't flowing strongly enough due to lots a dry weather, there is a solar panel array which can provide additional power to keep the water wheel turning. When the large skip bin is filled up with sufficient rubbish, it's simply towed away by boat and replaced with an empty one.

When the river's current isn't flowing strongly enough due to lots a dry weather, there is a solar panel array which can provide additional power to keep the water wheel turning. When the large skip bin is filled up with sufficient rubbish, it's simply towed away by boat and replaced with an empty one.

Types of trash the wheel collects

If you watched the above video, you'll see that the water wheel collects pretty much everything that floats in its path. Apparently, the top 3 items that are collected on a daily basis are cigarette butts, plastic water bottles and styrofoam containers which are commonly used for coffee cups and takeaway boxes.

John hopes that his simple but effective technology can also be used not just to clean rivers and harbours, but also to help rid our oceans of the ongoing menace of floating sea litter.

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