Innovation That Matters

Food waste that can be composted. | Photo source Pixabay

Not-for-profit design studio warms benches using compost

Agriculture & Energy

The company hopes the project will raise awareness of the large amount of waste generated by modern living.

Spotted: Not-for-profit design studio Public Works has built a compost-powered bench warmer. The system, which uses compost to heat water, which then warms a nearby bench, is being exhibited at the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019. 

Public Works develops projects that work as architecture, art and performance. The system, named “Power Plant(s)!”, uses a “closed-loop, waste-to-energy” mechanism to illustrate the way that production and consumption can be reduced. The company hopes the project will raise awareness of the large amount of waste generated by modern living. 

The system consists of a cylindrical container that contains a compost heap – a pile of decomposing organic waste, such as food scraps. Hay is used to provide insulation. As the waste decomposes, it radiates heat, which can reach as high as 60-70 degrees celsius. The heat warms water contained in a tube, which is then transferred to a nearby bench. In addition to heat, the system also produces nutrient-rich compost for farming.

According to Public Works, one way to raise awareness is “to create performative pieces, like Power Plant(s)! that engage people, but ultimately we need legislative change and quickly.” Public Works hopes the project can be further developed for underfloor heating, which it is already working on incorporating into a studio in East London.

Springwise has recently seen a number of innovations aimed at anaerobic digestion technology to transform food waste into heat and biogas. These have included projects to use cheese waste as biogas feedstock and fish waste as fuel for ships.



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