There was stiff competition at the University of Sheffield’s biodigester hackathon, organised by Helen Wright and sponsored by RS Components, Grass Roots and the Alumni Association. Each team consisted of cross-disciplinary first and second year engineering students, mentored by a third year student.
The students were challenged to build a digester that would fit into a 2m long x 1m high x 1m wide digester that would take food waste from the building, approximately 10kg/day or less. The digester would be sited in an area that already has some reactors. Although students wouldn’t have to design a device that uses the biogas, they had to think about how the biogas would be used. Each team had to present their idea for a digester, as well as build a model that represented their design – no mean feat for a weekend’s work!
Friday’s activities included basic anaerobic digestion principles, presentation skills and visits by engineering experts. By Saturday, the designs were starting to come together and a number of anaerobic digestion experts challenged the students on their designs, answered questions and provided technical advice.
Work on the models carried on late into Saturday night, with just enough time on Sunday morning to finish everything off before presentations and judging.
Congratulations to the winning team who evidenced good technical understanding demonstrated through a sound model; they also showed great project management skills in stakeholder identification, risk management and SMART targets. They had stiff competition from 2nd and 3rd place teams, with all the teams working really hard and impressing the judges with their effort and ability to assimilate some highly technical and complex AD engineering knowledge.