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Off Grid Energy Independence
Posted on September 10, 2010 by Dr Harry Zervos & 

Energy harvesting for waste management

Although high profile, visible applications are the most common ways to increase awareness of innovative technologies in action, it is often the case that some of the most successful business strategies are not related to high visibility but more so to elegant solutions for...not so elegant problems.
 
Waste management is one of those industries that will never gain the title of the most appealing sector as it is related to unwanted, unusable materials and their disposal. A US company based in Newton, Massachusetts, has managed to minimize the intrusiveness of waste in urban landscapes through the use of an innovative approach made possible by the availability and integration of the right technologies.
 
Source: BigBelly Solar

BigBelly Solar

BigBelly Solar is offering the world's first integrated system that uses renewable power and information technology to dramatically lower the operating costs, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the waste collection process. Through the integration of solar cell technology and network management software and services into the company's products, the waste collection process is optimized, while minimizing cost and environmental impact.

What does it do?

When the litter inside the compactor reaches a certain level in them, an internal compactor is triggered. This is repeated until the bin becomes 85% full, at which point an alarm is activated. The bin is equipped with a SIM card and at this point it will send either an email or a text message to the central server at the relevant department in order to inform personnel that the bin needs to be emptied.
 
They can hold five to eight times the amount of rubbish a standard one can, reducing collection demand by up to 80%. This way up to four out of five collection trips are eliminated, saving time, money and fuel, simultaneously reducing environmental impact (the BigBelly system can cut CO2 and other vehicle exhaust emissions by as much as 80%).
 
 
The compactor mechanism is powered by solar cells positioned at the top of the system. It gets 100% of its energy from the sun, and uses less than 5 Watt-hours per day.

Clients

BigBelly has already dispatched over 6,000 units of their compactor system, which is being used in 48 states across the USA, such as Boston and Philadelphia, and has also been successfully exported to 30 countries including Canada and the UK. The compactors are also being used in Universities, municipal parks and zoos around the US, with customers being satisfied with their use and the associated time, money and emissions savings.
 
Source: BigBelly Solar
 
In Northern Ireland, the Larne Borough Council has installed 19 compactors along Antrim coast, tackling the issue of "bins overflowing with sweet wrappers and juice bottles and the obligatory swarm of wasps feasting on leftovers", as quoted on BBC news.
 
Top image source: BigBelly Solar
 
 
 
 

Authored By: Dr Harry Zervos

Principal Analyst

Posted on: September 10, 2010

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