Students Create Garbage Disposal Attachment for Pre-Processing Compost

- Thursday, July 14, 2016
  • A team of six students from Rice University have created a prototype called the BioBlend for in-home food waste processing. The motor-operated unit is attached to a garbage disposal under the sink to further grind up food and strain out the water. The resulting material can be used for composting or biogas generation.

  • The students are also working on a website that would track user input volumes, provide advice on which items are best for composting, and provide alerts if the capture drawer was full or left open.

The students began working on this project after the school's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen tasked them with finding a way to change user behavior. Prototypes will be installed at the Chalmers University of Technology's HSB Living Lab in Sweden for further testing by students in residence. Local organics collection is available in that area of Sweden and students could potentially set the material they process through their BioBlends out for pick-up.

The use of in-sink garbage disposals has seen a resurgence lately. They've been recommended as a cheaper option for collecting organics in New York and Philadelphia has begun mandating them in new homes as of this year.

While the device will be useful in raising awareness among residents of the food they're disposing, it's unclear what role it would play in existing collection systems. Curbside programs accept most types of organic waste regardless of its consistency and many cities with in-sink disposal units are recovering gas from the material at anaerobic digestion facilities. The units could be useful for areas that don't have biogas recovery systems or for residents that want to do at-home composting.

By Cole Rosengren | July 1, 2016