Power Plant by Guus Van Leeuwen



More from Dutch designer Guus Van Leeuwen: Power Plant is a conceptual device for generating energy from household compost, exhibited at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show as part of Dutch Design Week last month.


The product has an engine which moves to drive a water pump or dynamo in response to the warmth produced from household waste breaking down.


Van Leeuwen proposes three possible applications for the garden: a hot tub, a garden shower and a reading chair with reading light.


See Van Leeuwen's Domestic Animals project in our previous story.


The following information is from Guus Van Leeuwen:


“Power Plant” is for the greater part a conceptual product with what I want to show how close to home we can keep energy production out of garbage, in this case compost.


Energy making out of garbage is already quite common nowadays. But I think the logistics can be a lot easier. The collecting of the garbage is a time, labor and energy spoiling job. And the transportation of the energy from the power station to the houses does also cost a lot of energy. In Sweden it’s already very common that every street collects its garbage in a garbage house. Inside such a house it’s often quite warm when it’s outside quite cold. This is caused by the scalding of the garbage. So without any effort are these garbage houses already working as a small energy station.

According to me there’s a future in this fact. I think we should go to a system in which at least garden and kitchen waste will be processed to energy close to the households. First the waste can be composted. In this process a big amount of warmth will be produced. And next the compost can still be used to create methane gas out of it. Every 10 kg of compost contents an amount of methane gas equal to 1 liter of super. And the final residue out of the waste can still be used as an excellent fertilizer for people’s gardens.

Of course this sounds great, but there’s a long way to go. With my “Power Plant” I made a product that shows how nearby energy production finds place without us knowing that. The product is a compost bin of 1m2 with on top of it a stirling engine that moves on the warmth that’s produced by the compost anyway. This warmth can go up to 70C°. I have made three applications to use this small “Power Plant” in the garden, at which the stirling engine works as a water pump or dynamo: A hottub, a garden shower and a reading chair with reading light.

Posted on Sunday November 16th 2008 at 6:49 pm by Matylda Krzykowski. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • iamreply

    Is this thoroughly researched? Does it work? Show us some evidence that this is plausable. It seems strange that a model of such a low quality could get posted on here. Thousands of these kind of ideas are being produced in first year ID classes globally and this one gets posted on the merit of a model and no factual findings? very strange to me. Also if say we disregard this and award on mere design alone. It still doesn’t cut it.

  • Justin


    The artist states that this is simply conceptual.

    It’s assumed to be feasible based on the numbers, who knows if it could be applied.

    One thing that I find interesting is that if instead of using the heat from composting we put that energy back into the compost, we can increase the speed of the breakdown reaction. Less artistic but more efficient than using the energy for, say, a reading light.

  • Jonathan End

    i would agree with this product if only they show how the process would work instead of narrating it in the text only.
    the design have that nice classical look though.

  • Tom

    @ iamreply

    Hang on a minute. Did you hear what he said? Compost generates temperatures up to 70 degrees. This could heat an outside room, or generate enough warm water for a shower (in summer). This is manifestly A Good Idea.

    So far, most of the focus on climate change has been How Terrible It Is, and How We Need To Change Our Lifestyles Now, without any real ideas for how to go about it.

    Low-emissions, local, reuse, sustainable, no end waste products, organic. This sort of thinking can save the world. Who cares if other people are doing it too? That’s great: get it all up on Dezeen.

    Far more important than sir Norman Foster designing a bloody yacht for someone who’s got too much money.

  • B

    de technique if it works is great
    I think he reading chair is not very pretty ,..nor is the hot tub,..well none of em
    so what is there left to appreciate?

  • step_out_of_a_triangle_and_into_striped_light

    Just a question but have you compared the energy consumption in producing the reading light model with the energy consumption of an energy saving bulb over say 15 years. I think just by not using one of these pieces you would be doing the environment a favor

  • Simon

    composting has been known to spontaneously combust


    So is this hot or HOT!

  • Nicola

    C’mon, someone is trying to find sustainable energy solutions in a time where people in island nations are already preparing to exile due to rising water level… isn’t that honorable?

  • it’s look like water pump at my old vilage, indonesia…
    i have an original picture. someday i will share it to everyone..

  • Aquawolf

    I think what he means to tell all, whitout looking at a sellable content, is that by making things local you have control over the use of your enery. That’s why this is a concept and not a sellable product. It’s an what if… And I think it can work with a sterling engine, they use it already for solarpower but it is of course also possible to use with other heat sources.

  • This is one of the main problems of current political participation projects in Germany: Many newly youth-created local youth councils or parliaments get infiltrated by young party members who manipulate young people not yet involved in the political process who seek ways to find their own identity and play adult roles as early as possible. ,