Borgharen Lock test centre for innovation

Borgharen Lock test centre for innovation

Rijkswaterstaat is making the redundant lock at Borgharen available for use in a study into the removal of plastic from the river. It will also be used to test a floating hydroelectric power plant.

Rijkswaterstaat allows space for innovation, not least on the water. And as the authority in charge of the River Meuse in the Netherlands we do, of course, want to keep the river clean. In this context we are working closely with other parties, such as start-ups. In the lock, it is possible to study the effect of a river flow in a controlled environment. This makes the lock a suitable location for research of all types.

Removing plastic

This initial pilot scheme is a collaborative effort with Noria, an organisation that focuses on the development of innovative methods and techniques for addressing the problem of plastic waste. In this case, it concerns the removal of plastic from the Meuse. Plastic waste never completely biodegrades. It degrades into very small pieces, but does not decompose. Rijkswaterstaat and Noria are testing systems that can remove plastic from the water. This is done with a prototype ‘plastic waste scoop wheel'.

In the lock it is possible to create a typical river flow. Then we allow plastic from the river to flow into the lock, and assess ways in which the scoop can remove this plastic. A net at the end of the lock ensures that no waste can get into the Grensmaas section of the river.

Floating hydroelectric power station

The EQA-company was also on site with its prototype: a floating hydroelectric power station. They are examining whether or not a power station of this type can generate enough energy to power a building site with energy from renewable sources. If that is possible, contractors at a building site adjacent to a river will, in future, be able to install a mobile, floating power station and carry out the construction work without harmful emissions. This prototype hydroelectric power station is made from recycled plastic and is fish-friendly, too. Fish are often killed when they get caught up in the turbines of many existing hydroelectric power stations.

Interreg Litter Free Rivers and Streams (LIVES)

The Meuse flows through several countries. Rijkswaterstaat is involved in the Interreg V-A LIVES project, the aim of which is to find ways to reduce waste in the Meuse by collaborating at European region level. The aim is for the Meuse to be 50% cleaner in 3 years’ time. Partners from Wallonia and Flanders will be present for the testing at Borgharen Lock, so that they too can learn from this initiative.