The Water Wheel Powered Trash Inceptor, an apparatus first introduced to the city of Baltimore back in 2008, has been reinstated in Baltimore Harbor with a sleek new design. The floating machine is a sort of vacuum cleaner for the harbor, scooping up trash floating through the water. This new iteration is projected to collect an estimated 50,000 pounds of trash every day.
The wheel is powered chiefly by the water’s current but switches to solar power when the water flow is not powerful enough to turn the wheel. Clearwater Mills, the company responsible for designing the trash collector, has stated the wheel is built to withstand the weight of large, heavy debris frequently found in the harbor.
“The wheel is just the engine, and the fuel is the river current or solar power charging batteries and pumping water,” said Daniel Chase, a wheel operator for Clearwater Mills, in an interview with CBS Baltimore.
The production of the water wheel has implications for new directions that the city of Baltimore is turning to: namely a cleaner, sustainable metropolis. This notion is reinforced by the construction of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center, an energy efficient, self-sustaining building which received an LEED certified platinum rating earlier this year.
To combat littering and pollution further, the Baltimore Office of Sustainability is currently collaborating with Blue Water Baltimore and Clearwater Mills to produce larger and better wheels to place in Jones Falls and other locations.
The partially solar powered machine was initially built in Jones Falls, but due to its inadequate size was relocated to Harris Creek in 2011. The wheel was removed a second time from Harris Creek in August of 2011 but is now a permanent installment in the Baltimore Harbor.