P18422: Black Soldier Fly Composting Habitat Improvement


Project Summary Project Information

Nearly half of all food produced worldwide for human consumption ends up going to landfills, contributing to omnipresent issues such as water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. On a weekly basis, 9 tons of food waste that is produced for human consumption within the RIT dining facilities is either being sent to landfills or off-campus to a biodigester. Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) can be used to reduce the carbon footprint of food waste compared to other options, paralleling RIT's vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030. A composting system prototype has been developed to counteract some of the aforementioned negative environmental effects through the accommodation of half a million larvae. This system, however, is not currently able to be scaled from startup to idealized, consistent operation due to an inability to manage the entire Black Soldier Fly (BSF) life cycle. This system and its related processes are intended to be leveraged in the community garden of RIT, which prompts significant consideration of life cycle maintenance due to the fact that the Black Soldier Flies prefer climates much different from that of Rochester.

As a continuation of Project 17422, the goal of this project is to improve/redesign the BSFL composting system and its subcomponents as well as optimize the BSFL facility inside a passive house-style shed. The composting system should have the capability to fit inside a 8’x10’ shed within the community garden, monitor and control the environmental conditions within the facility on a regular basis, reduce the energy required, and track emissions. The resulting design and prototype should adhere to the EPA P3 Grant requirements and meet campus guidelines, accounting for all stakeholders and use cases.

Black Soldier Fly

Black Soldier Fly

Sponsor: US EPA P3 Award

Sponsor: US EPA P3 Award

Project Name
Lords of the Flies
Project Number
Project Family
Sustainable Technologies
Start Term
End Term
Faculty Guide
Sarah Brownell, sabeie@rit.edu
Primary Customer
Sarah Brownell, sabeie@rit.edu
Shwe Sin Win, sxw3568@rit.edu
Brian Thorn
Dawn Carter
Sponsor (financial support)

Team Members

Back Row (left to right): Daniel Berg (MSD1), Ian Lengel, Saeed Akbar<br \>Front Row (left to right): Melissa Nellist, Lauren Cussen, Craig Brzyski, Corey Wrigley

Back Row (left to right): Daniel Berg (MSD1), Ian Lengel, Saeed Akbar
Front Row (left to right): Melissa Nellist, Lauren Cussen, Craig Brzyski, Corey Wrigley

Member Major Team Role Contact
Saeed Akbar EE Electrical Coordinator sxa9062@rit.edu
Daniel Berg (MSD 1) ME 3D Modeling Lead dgb4471@rit.edu
Craig Brzyski EE Webmaster cab1861@rit.edu
Lauren Cussen BME Facilitator/Communicator lnc5608@rit.edu
Ian Lengel ME Purchasing Lead ipl9550@rit.edu
Melissa Nellist ME Lead Engineer mjn5439@rit.edu
Corey Wrigley ISE Project Manager caw7107@rit.edu


The below figure depicts the lifecycle and activities of Black Soldier Flies. An important item to note is the fact that the entire life cycle of a fly (from larvae to adult) occurs over 45 days. As noted in the PRP and the requirements found in the Problem Definition phase page, there are also very specific environmental conditions necessary for the flies (at any stage of their lives) to live and function. For example, the Black Soldier fly larvae (BSFL) prefer dark, warm environments in order to remain active in consumption of food inputs.

Information about the Black Soldier Fly life cycle, in addition to the needs required by them as a stakeholder in this project, will be essential to consider in designing and creating a working composting system within the confines of RIT’s community garden shed.

BSFL Life Cycle, Provided by Senior Design Team P17422

BSFL Life Cycle, Provided by Senior Design Team P17422

Work Breakdown: By Phase


Planning & Execution

Project Photos and Videos

Imagine RIT

Gate Reviews

Problem Definition

Systems Design

Preliminary Detailed Design

Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep

Subsystem Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation (Verification & Validation)

Work Breakdown: By Topic

Project Management Design Tools Design Documentation Implementation Validation Presentation & Dissemination


Customer Requirements


Risk Management

Problem Management

Communication & Minutes

Use Cases


Functional Decomposition

Morphological Chart

Pugh Concept Selection


Mechanical Drawings

Electrical Schematics

Software Diagrams

Facility Layout



Test Plans

Analysis Results

Test Results

Design Review Documents



We would like to thank Professor Sarah Brownell and Shwe Sin Win for their research and supporting work. We would like to thank our sponors the US EPA P3 Award and PI Brian Thorn.