Development of a cost-efficient PCB prototype
Micro-scale anaerobic digester
Grian Water Ltd have developed, MyGug, a micro-scale anaerobic digester, for the treatment of food water, improving waste management by turning organic matter into renewable fuel. It is a complete food waste treatment system that integrates into domestic/small business settings, operating in all weather and climate conditions.
The system is fully automated and insulated, providing a convenient and efficient food waste disposal solution, which is environment friendly, produces no odour and has no vermin issues. There are two by-products from MyGug: biogas for cooking and liquid fertiliser.
Prior to engagement with WiSAR, an initial MyGug prototype had been operational for 18 months, during which the unit had treated approximately 1 tonne of food waste and produced the equivalent of 100kg of bottled gas.
Low-cost microcontroller solution
The controls of the initial MyGug prototype utilised a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) which is prohibitively expensive for the target sector. Grian Water approached WiSAR with the request to replace the PLC controller with a low-cost microcontroller solution utilising wireless connectivity with cloud storage, to monitor the digester’s performance over time.
Funded by Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers, WiSAR initially scoped out the requirements and hardware specification in conjunction with the client.
Once the specifications had been configured and agreed, schematics and a printed Circuit Board (PCB) layout were developed by WiSAR researchers, to facilitate firmware development and testing.
With the initial hardware specifications completed, the firmware was developed to meet the project objectives. Concurrent development and testing facilitated revisions to the embedded system, and 5 PCBs were then outsourced for production, with component population taking place in-house.
The first of the developed PCB’s was then installed in a domestic application. In addition to the hardware and firmware development, a basic database and web interface was implemented through an open source IOT platform.
cost-efficient PCB prototype
“Our collaboration with the WiSAR Technology Gateway, enabled us to refine and advance our MyGug prototype through a specialised research centre, resulting in a more cost-efficient product with connectivity features, thus increasing our value proposition and competitiveness. The Innovation Voucher programme has been invaluable, and we are now seeking further funding to complete the product development with WiSAR and unlock our market growth potential.”Kieran Coffey
CTO, Grian Water Ltd
The Grian Water Ltd & WiSAR Technology Gateway partnership
The work carried out by WiSAR has provided the client, Grian Water Ltd, with a more cost-efficient PCB prototype, better meeting the needs of the target end user. Going forward, a number of the prototype PCBs will be installed in domestic applications for longer term testing and to gather overall performance data.
Beyond this initial funding, the next stage of works will be to refine the developed PCB to further reduce the size and cost of each unit. Additional firmware features will also be developed to allow remote control of Mygug settings such as thresholds and timings of heaters/pumps.
A bespoke web interface and phone application will be the final development stage, the purpose of which is to enable the MyGug user to collate and analyse data relating to performance, environmental impact, cost-savings, and predictive maintenance.