Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) logo. (Contributed graphic)

Former Red Deer Polytechnic students design solar-powered composter

Project has received provincial recognition

A group of former Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) engineering technology students have earned provincial recognition for their concept design of a solar-powered composter.

The former team of Trevor Neufeld, Josiah Kure, Tyrell Mappin, and Brant Dunn has been honoured as a provincial finalist for the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta’s (ASET) Capstone Project of the Year Award.

“This is the second green project we’ve seen presented by Red Deer Polytechnic students for this set of Capstone Project of the Year Award finalists,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “It’s original, well-researched and has real-world application.”

The solar-powered composter is intended to provide hands-free, year-round composting. It features automated agitation, heating and ventilation.

The solar panel charges two 12-volt 40 Ah batteries that run the motor, fan and heater. The composter’s housing design has two-inch XPS rigid insulation and is internally heated to allow for winter composting.

A 55-gallon barrel containing the compost is mounted on rollers that are rotated by a 12-volt DC motor, using a chain drive system. The assembly rotates automatically every three days. A hatch in the barrel’s side allows for loading and unloading of compost.

An Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller automates the control system for the composter, including timing the automation and ventilation, and maintaining the temperature within the housing. The automated composting process is started by a toggle switch.

The composter is aerated by a fan, which turns on every day to ventilate the housing. The heater is activated when the composter’s internal temperature drops below 1 C.

The former RDP team’s project is one of seven finalists named by ASET for the Capstone Project of the Year Award. The winning project will be announced later this year.