Autonomous Trash Collector Deployed on the River Scheldt
An autonomous plastic collector solution installed on the river Scheldt in Belgium will be tested for a year to collect waste from the water.
Aiming to tackle the increasing problem of river pollution, the Flemish authority responsible for waterways in Flanders, the Vlaamse Waterweg, has teamed up with the business world to test the concept of waste collectors.
After a call from the Vlaamse Waterweg to companies to submit an innovative proposal, DEME proposed a project for collecting waste by the Temse-Bornem Scheldt bridges. The DEME test setup consists of a fixed installation that passively collects floating and suspended waste from the water and a mobile system that actively collects bigger pieces of waste.
DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC) said it has installed the solution, and the test phase will start in February 2020, carried out in cooperation with the University of Antwerp and the Institute for Nature and Forestry Management (Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosbeheer).
The mobile installation consists of a smart detection system, a workboat that can navigate autonomously and a charging point. Floating waste is detected using artificial intelligence (AI) by smart cameras that are installed on the old Temse bridge. An autonomously navigating workboat, the Marine Litter Hunter, intercepts waste and pushes it to a collection pontoon. The waste is collected in the collection pontoon, where a crane equipped with a grab transfers the waste into a container.
The fixed crane is operated remotely by an operator using virtual reality and 3D vision technology. When the container is full, the work boat takes this autonomously to the docking station, where it is unloaded by a transfer crane on the quay. The Marine Litter Hunter is fully CO2-neutral and moors autonomously at the docking station to charge.
In addition to the mobile plastic collector, DEME will also test a fixed installation to collect floating and suspended waste. The installation will consist of a V-shaped fyke with a collection pontoon.
Dirk Poppe, Managing Director of DEC said, “In the course of our global activities we are confronted daily with waste in rivers and oceans. During dredging works, for example, we come across large quantities of plastic.
“For DEME’s environmental subsidiary DEC, that specializes among other things in soil, sludge and water remediation, it is a logical step to use our expertise to cooperate actively on solutions for the global waste problem.
“By collecting plastic in rivers we can avoid it landing up in our seas and oceans, where it is more difficult to tackle the problem.
“By cooperating with the Vlaamse Waterweg we can thoroughly test the operation of the plastic collector and see whether we can use the technology on a larger scale in rivers, river deltas and ports.”