Yesterday my Aunt sent me an article from the Boston Globe about street sweeping in the city of Boston. The title of the article was related to the future of street sweeping and I was immediately curious if this wasteful yet somewhat necessary institution was about to be disbanded due to the recent economic downturn. Instead I was pleasantly surprised to read about a newly unveiled, waterless street sweeper proposed to the city of Boston called the Waterless Eagle.
The Waterless Eagle uses forceful suction and brushes to intake all the dirt and grime, as opposed to simply pushing it forward until it reaches a low point to fall into as a standard sweeper does. In a city demonstration the Eagle managed to suck up dirt that a standard sweeper missed and left the asphalt shiny clean. City officials were certainly impressed but there is one great downfall to the Eagle, the price tag. At $235,000 per unit, to replace all seven city machines during a time of proposed budgetary cuts would be a hit of over $1.6 million so there would need to be some very strong reasoning behind the change other than pretty roads.
During my research I discovered that street sweepers can have a tank with up to 420 gallons of water and as the article states, the seven trucks in operation in the city of Boston (not to mention all the privately owned trucks operating around town) are capable of using over 800 gallons of water per day, each. That is a hefty number especially when considering sweepers are out from spring to fall. In addition to the wasteful aspect of the machines, all that water has to go somewhere. As the machine sprays at the curb the large rotating brushes literally sweep away the dirt, grime and trash leaving this water free to run right into neighboring streams or sewers. Let us not forget all that rock salt or sand that was used over the winter that is now headed straight downstream, compromising waterways and nature in the process.
The Eagle runs on a powerful John Deere motor and can travel as fast as highway speed which means increased efficiency in the time it takes to complete an entire neighborhood. The hopper will hold up to four and a half cubic yards of waste and can sweep a swath of up to ten feet. The hopper and sweep path are comparable to that of a standard sweeper but the most excellent feature of all is the optional fuel systems. The Eagle can be fitted to run on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) meaning an immediate savings of fuel cost and emissions city wide.
I am hopeful that the city of Boston will see the benefit of such an efficient and Green machine and invest in at least one for this year as a test run toward greening up the city. Once they find the benefits of such technological advances far outweigh the cost it will only be a matter of time before residents start seeing big white trucks sucking up our grunge as opposed to the well used, once loved, yet completely outdated dirt stained yellow machines of yesterday.