Ever wonder what happened to BigBelly, the solar-powered trash compactor created with help from an array of design tools, including SolidWorks? Well, BigBelly is now a big hit in cities in over 40 states, the most recent to sing its praises-the city of Philadelphia, which aims to save over $13 million over 10 years deploying 500 BigBelly units to cut collection costs by 70%. If you want a closer look at how BigBelly works-and a peak at the inner workings of all of the electronics–check out this video, which peels back the covers on the unit.
BigBelly’s design concept was to refashion a standard trash compactor into a solar unit. While simplistic in concept, it involved some significant rethinking of the design to minimize energy consumption to keep the units self-contained and relatively small in stature. Using the 3-D tools, the design team created a drive chain mechanism to power the compaction system, which uses no hydraulic fluids and consumes minimal energy. There are also microprocessors and sensors to help determine when the trash needs to be compacted and collected and even a Web portal to allow city customers to monitor the status of their units.