P20422: Black Soldier Fly Composter Improvements

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

Throughout the Problem Definition Phase, the team used the following methods to understand the desired state and the desired states from the customer:

The team also produced:

Project Summary

A pdf version of the project summary can be found using the following link: Project Summary.

The project readiness package can be found using the following link: PRP.


Use Cases

RIT Community Garden

This is the most likely use case as the RIT Community Garden is our intended end user. They have constructed an artificial environment in the garden such that it is hospitable for the Black Soldier Fly colony.

Commercial Restaurant

This is a use case that is being explored by the team as a growth opportunity for the product. Before this is a feasible option for restaurants, ease of use needs to be improved and the amount of necessary upkeep needs to be reduced.


A .pdf version of the Use Case Scenarios can be found using the following link: Use Cases

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

Upon completion of this project the expected items to present to the customer are:

Customer Requirements

Highest Priority CRs for Composter


Customer Requirements broken down by importance (1,3,9 scale) and category can be found using the following link: Customer Requirements

Engineering Requirements


Engineering Requirements with units and direction of improvement can be found using the follow link: Engineering Requirements


The key constraints for this project are:

House of Quality

CR vs ER Diagram

Roof of House of Quality

High Leverage Requirements


House of Quality and ranked Engineering Requirements can be found using the following link: House of Quality



To brainstorm and avoid redundant work the team benchmarked four current food composting solutions: two previous senior design projects, DIY composting buckets, and composting trenches.


This is the previous MSD Black Soldier Fly design. This prototype was able to expect whole, ground, chopped and wet foods. When it provided a pupation site and darkness, it did not provide a reliable route for larvae migration. The composer had components that were easily replaceable (i.e bucket for collecting larvae) but the cone design cannot be easily replaced. The composter could fit through the shed, but barely. The composter will leak from the bottom. When the previous design worked, there is a lot to be approved upon.


This is the original MSD Black Soldier Fly design. This design can process max 6Kg of food a day, which is above the desired 4.5kg of food per day. The structure minimize the amount of house flies and other species getting inside. It also prevents Black Soldier flies from escaping into the environment. There is a metal draw that allows for removal of leachate and frass, but it does not work causing leaks and spills. This design is very costly, about $1000, with parts that are not easily sourced.

DIY Bucket

This design is inexpensive to make, only costing the user $25. It has a separate pupation area, in which, the larvae are promoted to move to via Polycarbonate tube. This tube is adjustable to accommodate increasing volume of food waste. The intake capacity is that of a bucket, which is not desirable. The optimal amount of liquid in the is obtained by allowing the extra water and/or leached drain out the bottom. This DIY bucket can fit almost anywhere, including the shed. It has an ergonomic design that allows the composter to be used by a single shorter operator. This bucket does not have the option to be scalable. Ideally the composter will be variable in size to accommodate increasing volume of food.


The trench can hold 12kg/day which is about 3x as much as the desired amount. The composer is relatively inexpensive, only $200. The trench can accept whole, chopped, ground and wet foods. It has a metal ramp that allows it to be variable in size. It can not prevent other species from coming in, as well black soldier flies from leaving. It has a pupation site and a metal ramp allowing the larvae to leave. It does not have a method of waste removal.

Benchmarking Table

The table below compares the four solutions:
public/Photo Gallery/benchmarking.PNG

Design Review Materials

The agenda for the problem definition presentation can be downloaded using the following link: Agenda.

The problem definition presentation can be downloaded using the following link: Problem Definition Presentation.

Plans for next phase

Below is the three-week plan for the Systems Design Phase:
public/Photo Gallery/schedule.PNG

Home | Planning & Execution | Imagine RIT

Problem Definition | Systems Design | Preliminary Detailed Design | Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep | Subsystem Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test | Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation