Pulaski-based Beachmakers Invents Machine to Chew Up Zebra Mussels

Machine will chew up the shells and spit them out

Zebra mussels, an invasive species of mollusks that form vast colonies on rocks, piers and anything else they can latch onto, leave behind equally vast shell piles when they die. The shell remnants are driven by waves into piles four feet high on the lakeshore properties on Edgewater Beach Road in Dyckesville, five miles north of Green Bay. That's enough shells to fill about 22 dump trucks per household.

The machine suctions up shells through a large hose, which sends them into a chamber where a 'tornado effect' spins the shells around, crushing them as they are tossed against the interior walls, until they disintegrate into sand.

Elsing, Books and Schibly make up Beachmakers LLC, a Pulaski-based company which made its first public demonstration of the "Beachmaker" in the Edgewater Beach Road neighborhood, taking in chunks of mussel shells at a time and emitting gray sand that took up roughly one-third the space.

Kimberly Busse, a water quality specialist at the Environmental Research and Innovation Center at UW-Oshkosh will partner with Beachmakers throughout the summer, testing the environmental impact of the sand the machine produces during tests in the Edgewater Beach Road location and at several spots along Lake Winnebago.

Rob McLennan, Water Quality Supervisor for the East District of the Department of Natural Resources, said the shell sand could perhaps be used as mortar sand or as bedding for cattle, but it needs to be tested to ensure it doesn't do harm to the environment