Yamaha’s U.S. marine business unit and Clearwater Mills, L.L.C. of Pasadena, Md., agreed today to jointly design a device for removing plastics and other floating debris from coastal stormwater systems.
Clearwater Mills is the creator of Mr. Trash Wheel, which has become famous in recent years for all but eliminating floating debris in Baltimore Harbor.
The Yamaha device, jointly designed with Clearwater Mills, will differ from Mr. Trash Wheel because it will be land based and electrically powered. (Mr. Trash Wheel is moored, buoyant and primarily powered by natural water flow.)
“It’s a similar, yet different, device,” Yamaha Marine communications and government relations senior manager Martin Peters told Trade Only Today. “The intention is to create a pilot to see if it works. It will incorporate Yamaha products, controls and electric motors that we will incorporate into the device.”
The challenge Yamaha Rightwaters faces in the design process is to ensure the device operates efficiently where water flow is inconsistent, said Clearwater Mills president John Kellett.
“If we can make this pilot project work, we will have created something we can use to keep debris out of marshlands, coastal waterways and off the beaches all along the Atlantic Coast,” said Kellett in a statement.
To date, Mr. Trash Wheel has prevented 1,200 tons of debris from entering the Harbor, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the success of Mr. Trash Wheel, Baltimore has added Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel; a fourth Trash Wheel is in the works for the Harbor.
Yamaha and Clearwater Mills plan to deploy the new Yamaha Rightwaters device in coastal Georgia.
“Part of why Mr. Trash Wheel is so efficient is its location — a river that feeds a harbor,” said Peters. “The beauty of the device we’re developing is that it’s designed to collect debris at a critical point before it disperses into a larger body of water.”
Yamaha, along with Clearwater Mills, officials from Glynn County and the City of Brunswick, Ga., has identified the point in the stormwater system where the greatest amount of debris can be captured. The device has to be strategically located at a choke point in order to collect the debris, said Peters.
"When we were in Glynn County, we looked at 15 sites to figure out where we should locate the device," Peters told Trade Only. "It was laborious. We spent a day and a half exploring different sites. It was multiple trips over six months as well. So where you put this thing matters."
"The other thing that’s important to note is, this is a pilot," said Peters. "The device used in Baltimore has flotation. It’s buoyant, it’s moored, and it’s designed to work with a consistent water flow. The new location does not have consistent water flow, but it is a choke point for all those floating plastics and debris. This device has to operate in that environment, so it will be a different device. We have to figure out if this machine will work as we hoped by simply trying it."
The company is also helping with the new design. “Our role at Yamaha is to integrate the power and electronic control systems for the device. Our Yamaha Marine Boat Power Systems Advanced Development Engineering Team will take on that part of the project."
The proposed location for the device is a spillway that drains stormwater from a large residential and commercial area of Glynn County into the adjacent estuary. Water depth over the spillway can vary from several inches to as much as 18 feet, depending upon rainfall intensity and duration in the area.
Yamaha, Glynn County, the City of Brunswick and Clearwater Mills aim to have a working prototype installed in the waterway by the second quarter of 2020.
“Georgia is home to 1,800 Yamaha employees, and that’s why we have started here,” said Peters. “If the pilot project goes well, we’ll work toward finding ways to install similar devices nationally. For us, the end game is cleaner water everywhere. Debris transported by stormwater contributes to ocean microplastics pollution, injures sea life and is a hazard to navigation. We invite anyone who boats and fishes to get engaged in existing projects to keep debris out of our waterways.”
Yamaha plans to deploy the device as part of its Yamaha Rightwaters sustainability campaign, a national program focused on water; the effort includes conservation, habitat restoration and projects to reduce marine debris.