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This Drain Cover Captures Debris So Drains Don’t Clog During Storms

When it rains, drains often fill with trash and become clogged. The storm water can’t escape the street and starts to pool, causing flooding.

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Cesare Tamagno and Simone di Gioia saw this close-up while studying in Genoa in November 2011. The Italian city was hit with a big downpour and its infrastructure was overrun. Clogged drains contributed to widespread flooding.

The student designers started thinking about a way to clear drains that doesn’t require someone to lift up the cover and take out the debris. Their invention–albeit at an early stage–is a self-cleaning drain.

It works like this. Water comes in through two inlets and hits a thick net which separates the solid stuff from the liquid. The rushing water turns two turbines that push the trash up and out. Someone still needs to clear the drain on the surface. But now it’s a matter of simple street-cleaning, not underground work.

Tamagno and Di Gioia entered a prototype for this year’s James Dyson Award and were selected as one of five Italian winners. The concept, called Noé, now goes forward to the international stage of the contest, which announces an overall winner in November.

“This [drain cover] is conceived to fit perfectly [into] the existing road surface, in order to avoid any kind of expensive renovation or adaptation of the roadway,” Tamagno says in an email.

The designers are now looking for partners to build a second prototype.

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