Meg Rominiecki
Meg Rominiecki
First Place Winner, Elementary School - 2009 Imagine That! Engineering Innovation
Junk Recycler

description for Junk RecyclerThis is a machine that decreases the amount of space junk. I am concerned about the space junk that the world creates. Some of the stuff that are space junk are paint flakes, dust and slag from solid rocket motors from man-made nuclear powered satellites, and lost tools. Space junk is a problem because if it stays up there too long it might hit satellites. It is a problem because it rains down on the earth and can be toxic. It rains down on food supplies and fields. One lady was hit by a piece of debris on her shoulder. This is a problem that many people are thinking about and trying to solve now.

Image #1 is the machine. There is a motor that we can't see. The area behind the coils in the middle is shaped like a cone. What we see is the compartment that collects the space junk and the coils that burn up the junk. The coils are also part of a system that attracts the junk to come into this machine. The attraction system could be a suction or a kind of gravity or a magnetic field. The long strips around the outside are the rollers that flatten the junk to prepare it for the burning stage. We’re looking into the chamber from the opening that the junk comes in. It’s open to outer space. A rocket is connected to the back to bring it up. A smaller rocket propels it from one orbit to another, wherever there is junk. The rings on the ceiling are heat radiating out of the coils. The depression in the floor helps the junk go into the heating area. The ashes go into the cone behind the heater. When the cone is full, one of the astronauts from the space station takes it and sends the full one back on the space shuttle for recyclling and puts an empty one there.

If I were an engineer, I would need to know about the kinds of things that are in space junk and what they are made of. I would need to know about the materials because I would need to know about what happens to things in outer space without much gravity, in very cold conditions, without oxygen, and without a protective atmosphere. So I would have to investigate how to burn something without oxygen.

In order to build this machine I would need to study mechanical engineering and also the physics of outer space. I would work with a team of engineers because if we all work together we could we could work faster and have more ideas. I would need a rocket specialist, a specialist who could help me design the burning coils, an engineer who would help me design the machine to be safe and environmentally friendly, and an engineer who knew about the properties of all the materials in space junk.