Jonathan Chaplin, Associate Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engr
Trash collection along roadsides is usually completed manually, which is time-consuming and requires many workers. Prior to this project, machines were available to remove trash on smooth surfaces such as concrete; however, none were able to pick up litter on grassy areas. The goal of this research project was to develop a prototype trash harvester for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The trash harvester would be capable of collecting a wide range of trash materials from sloping road embankments and fence lines along rights of way, and would ultimately make the process easier, safer, faster, and more economical. This research extended and built on the results of the Phase 1 project, in which a concept for a trash harvester was developed. While the trash harvester was initially designed with a shredding attachment, this was superseded with a conveyor design. Materials were collected and processed at a field capacity of approximately 10 acres per hour, and collected material was sorted for recycling on the harvester. The trash harvesting principle was proven in field trials and the machine collects 100% of paper, bottles, and soda cans. The machine can also lift 2 x 4s up to 15" in length.