Machine guzzles trash as it cruises down the river

Seven Clean Seas' vessel-like machine is powered by solar and wind energy and can hold about 2,000kg of trash.
Seven Clean Seas' vessel-like machine is powered by solar and wind energy and can hold about 2,000kg of trash.PHOTO: SEVEN CLEAN SEAS

This vessel-like machine will meander down rivers but instead of taking visitors on a cruise or housing fishermen, it will guzzle trash that comes in its way.

This is local start-up Seven Clean Seas' solution to clearing marine rubbish by targeting rivers, which is a major source of plastic waste into the oceans.

Powered by solar and wind energy, the river plastic recovery system is 30m long and 6m wide, with a container inside that can hold about 2,000kg of trash.

As it floats down the river, a long and thick wire traps debris, including rubbish suspended up to 1m deep.

The trash will then be funnelled into the machine and up a conveyor belt to be stored in the container.

The company is working with naval engineers from Longitude Engineering to develop the system.

They aim to build the first machine in Vietnam and deploy it on either the Mekong or the Red River by the end of this year.

One machine will cost about US$300,000 (S$397,000), said Mr Tom Peacock-Nazil, founder of Seven Clean Seas.

The machine can collect about 1.5 million kg of river trash in a year.

The system can also be customised to brave the elements of each river.

For instance, if one tends to flood frequently, the system will have a stronger mooring system to anchor it in place.

"We want to develop a system that is like a Swiss Army knife," said Mr Peacock-Nazil.

Dutch foundation The Ocean Clean-up has similar river cleaning machines called The Interceptor, which are operating on three rivers.

Shabana Begum

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2021, with the headline 'Machine guzzles trash as it cruises down the river'. Subscribe