P18422: Black Soldier Fly Composting Habitat Improvement

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

During the Problem Definition Phase, the group worked to understand the current conditions from multiple customer perspectives by:

Link to our Preliminary Project Plan.

Project Summary

Link to our Problem Statement Document.

Link to our Problem Summary Document.

Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) can be used to imprint a smaller carbon footprint than other composting alternatives, paralleling RIT’s vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030. On a weekly basis, 1.3 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. A composting system prototype has been developed to accommodate half a million larvae, but it is not able to be scaled from start-up to full operation due to an inability to manage the entire Black Soldier Fly (BSF) life cycle.

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, monitor and control the environmental conditions within the facility, reduce the energy required, and track emissions. The resulting design and prototype should adhere to the EPA P3 Grant requirements and meet campus guidelines.

Customer Interviews

Date Person Role Q&A Document
August 30, 2017 Shwe Sin Win & Sarah Brownell Sponsor Interview Q&A.


Stakeholder Position
RIT Potential Beneficiary of Composting
Black Soldier Fly Researchers RIT Employees and Project Customers
Freshman Biology Group Researcher Assistance
Black Soldier Flies Means of Composting
EPA and MSD Sponsors Financial Sponsor and Supporters
Inventors Owners of Original Ideas
RIT Dining Services Food Waste Provider
RIT Students and Peers Other Users of Community Garden
MSD Team The Developers
Local Farmers Potential Beneficiary of Composting

Understanding the needs associated with these stakeholders as well as how they are interrelated will be leveraged by the group in order to ensure that the project is both meaningful and effective when compared to the group’s original intentions and project scope.

Use Cases

The following use cases were considered by the team:

A generalized workflow has been created to accommodate for the various scenarios listed above.

Generalized Use Cases for Black Soldier Fly Composter

Generalized Use Cases for Black Soldier Fly Composter

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

Upon completion of the project, the key stakeholders and customers can expect to receive:

A working prototype of the system is expected to be completed by March of 2018.

Customer Requirements

Date Person Role Customer Requirements
September 13, 2017 Dawn Carter Biological Expert Customer Requirements.
September 14, 2017 Sarah Brownell Customer Customer Requirements.
September 14, 2017 Shwe Sin Win Technical Expert Customer Requirements.

From the three documents listed above, the team derived a general Customer Requirements table.

Link to our Customer Requirements Document.

Final Customer Requirements Table

Final Customer Requirements Table

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Link to our Engineering Requirements

Engineering Requirements Table

Engineering Requirements Table


The team was able to identify the following constraints:

House of Quality

A House of Quality analysis was performed on the requirements and constraints in order to better understand the relationship between the customer and engineering requirements. This also allowed the group to make sure that all customer needs had a matching metric to measure whether or not their need was met. This helps to ensure overall satisfaction with the final product. Through this analysis it was determined that the most important requirements were customer satisfaction, size of the composter, moisture content, and ability of the larvae to migrate properly.

Investigation related to design trade-offs was also started to think about compromises that the group is going to have to make in order to meet as many engineering requirements as possible. For example, as you strive for more accurate measurements of the climate conditions of the shed, this increases the cost of the system. Also, as you work to reduce the time to remove frass this also increases the number of operators needed to meet this time. More operators can get the task done faster but it is important that the system can still be easily operated with one person. One last tradeoff to keep in mind is that the more variable area footprint you create the more weight this will add to the system. A bigger system requires more materials to be built out of and contains more food waste which makes the system heavier.

Link to our House of Quality Document


Product Specific Benchmark

Product Specific Benchmark

Systems Level Benchmark

Systems Level Benchmark

Risk Management

From the below matrix, it can be noted that the group recognizes risks of several types associated with the project at hand. Among the most important and potentially severe is item RTC1 (bottom layer removal system does not work or disturbs operation). It has been identified as an area for extra attention and contingency planning due to its higher probability of occurrence as well as its potential severity.

In addition to RTC1, the following items have been identified as requiring extra attention due to the risks that they pose:

Countermeasures have also been ideated for all risks and will need to be considered moving forward into consequent project phases.

Link to our Risk Management Matrix Document as seen in the photo below.

Risk Management Matrix

Risk Management Matrix

Design Review Materials

Pre-read Material

Project Summary.

Risk Management Matrix.

Systems Design Phase Project Plan.

Systems Level Benchmark.

Team Norms.

Use Cases.

Use Cases- Workflow Maps.

Presentation Material & Handouts

Design Review Powerpoint.

House of Quality - Matrix.

Customer Requirements.

Engineering Requirements.

Team and Individual Visions.

Review Notes

Design Review Notes.

Action Items

To be updated after review.

Plans for next phase

During the Systems Design Phase, the group plans to:

Our overall work breakdown plan for the Systems Design Phase.

Individual team member visions can be found in the Team and Individual Visions Document.

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