Radiant in Residential

Cleaning a harbor with the power of the sun

Fri, 05/23/2014 - 11:32

Eco-friendly initiatives have been making their way into homes everywhere with radiant heaters and solar panels, but when these technologies are applied to large-scale use, that is where they have the potential to make the biggest difference. Electric floor heat can lower the energy costs of warming a building and solar panel can power it, but Clearwater Mills has found a way to use solar energy to clean some of the dirtiest rivers in the country, according to Inhabitat.

Creating a better first impression

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is often one of the first things people visiting the city see. Unfortunately, during stretches of heavy rainfall, the Jones Fall River carries trash and litter downstream where it is deposited in the harbor for all to behold. The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore has the goal of cleaning the polluted water and making it swimmable by 2020, and the feat looks possible thanks to the water-wheel trash interceptor developed by Clearwater Mills.

"When tourists see trash, when our residents see trash, they're put off," Laurie Schwartz of the Waterfront Partnership told CBS Local. "We want to make the harbor as attractive as we can."
This permanent water wheel stands 14 feet high and has the potential to collect up to 1 million pounds of trash a year, or 50,000 pounds a day. 

Using the sun to do the dirty work

The crews previously tasked with cleaning the river simply did not have the proper means to get the job done. The water wheel uses 30 solar panels to power itself as it funnels trash at a choke point in the river, moving it to a conveyor belt that lifts it from the water and disposes of it in a dumpster. When the bin of trash is full, a barge pushes it to shore to be collected and transported to a facility where it is used to produce energy.

Not only does the water wheel work to remove trash from the harbor and river, but moving 20,000 gallons of water an hour through the process supplies fresh oxygen to the water. This helps supplement the natural ecosystem while also removing organic waste that could release ammonia into the harbor through decomposition.

This water wheel will tirelessly spin to improve the environment of an area thousands see daily. Because of its noticeable appearance and the attention it'll receive, it also acts as a mascot for similar initiatives and the solutions available to solve them.