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Public Works builds compost powered bench heating system

02/10/2019
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Design practice Public Works has decided to explore the future of small-scale renewable technology by building a heating system powered by compost that warms a park bench…
Public Works builds compost powered bench heating system
(Image via Public Works.)

Yes, that’s right. If you’ve ever felt the need for your park bench to be slightly warmer, Public Works has an eco-friendly solution! The system, named Power Plant(s)! has been developed in collaboration with Oslo School of Architecture students and architectural practice Flakk/Dalziel, as a demonstration of how waste can be used as a viable alternative to fossil fuels for heating.

The project forms part of Oslo Architecture Triennale – which this year is exploring the theme of degrowth, an economic strategy which believes in the downscaling of production and consumption.
The bench is heated using the natural reaction of composting
(Image via Public Works).

Speaking to architectural and design magazine Dezeen, Tom Dobson, project lead at Public Works, described the project:

“Waste is one of the fundamental outputs of ‘growth’. As a society we spend a huge amount of money and energy trying to make our waste disappear and pretend it does not happen. We also spend a huge amount of energy and money extracting fossil fuels to create heat which brings a whole new set of environmental issues entwined with growth. This project illustrate how we can create closed loop waste-to-energy systems using nature-based solutions.”
The power plant has been designed to stack the compost heap in the optimal height and footprint for heat generation
(Image via Public Works).

The Power Plant(s)! system is based on the natural reaction of composting, whereby the decomposition of organic waste generates heat of up to 60-70 degrees Celsius. The cylindrical form of the storage container allows for the compost heap to be built up with the highest mass and the lowest surface area possible, maintaining heat effectively and reducing the footprint of the power plant. 

Generated heat is then transferred from the power plant, via a coil of tubing to the bench. 

Acting as a small-scale prototype, the team at Public Works hopes to prove the effectiveness of this technology. “If you can heat a bench, you can heat a house,” explains a spokesperson from Public Works.

Power Plant(s)! is one of several projects which Public Works is developing that transform waste into heat and biogas through anaerobic digestion technology. 
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Public Works builds compost powered bench heating system - Time to read 2 min
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