Every good story begins with an idea. A theme from the heart. We asked ourselves the question of whether we could face the daily kitchen waste hassle. And beyond that, whether we could make something really useful out of our daily organic waste. Every German produces 120 kg of it every year. At KALEA, we believe there are cleaner and more convenient solutions to handle kitchen waste at home. Nature has already given us inspiration. Composting turns biowaste efficiently into soil-like fertilizer. With that inspiration, we have linked a natural process to smart technology and convenient use.
Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar. Du findest ihn hier. (Links to our German blog post)
Our KALEA journey began in 2017, and together with the Technical University of Darmstadt, we started a concept workshop to turn our vision into something tangible. Due to the fact that fast, clean, hygienic, and effective composting already existed - in huge numbers! - large-scale composting plants created what we wanted to bring into our own four walls. So we asked ourselves, “How can something that composts tons of organic waste be scaled up so that it can be applied to a few kilos per week?” The answer: Think small!
Kitchen composter: Stir, chop, heat - The Perfect Mix?
The first prototype test object was quickly found. We used a conventional, fully automatic kitchen machine, which basically had the same functionalities as a large composting plant: it could stir, shred, and heat. Important processes to stimulate the natural composting process.
But, it wasn’t as simple as that. We developed an ingenious chopper and installed a small water pump, a moisture sensor, and a mini blower which provided fresh air and heat exchange.
The kitchen waste of our brain food, from banana peels to apple cores, we diligently collected and threw everything together into the food processor to check if our mince processor worked. For three days we composted. We came to the wonderful conclusion, thanks to a maturity test that our pimped up food processor was composting. The proof was there and we translated the principle of the large-scale composting plant into a minimal concept. Without chemicals, we helped the natural microorganisms with our upgraded device, so that our kitchen waste could be composted within a short period of time. The birth of KALEA.
From prototype to KALEA pioneer
An incredibly important factor in composting is the moisture content of the biomass to be composted. The natural microorganisms are very choosy here. It must not be too dry, but also not too moist or else the biomass starts to ferment. The typical smell in our organic waste bin - you surely know it. It was also important that the waste is neither too warm nor too cold. Hot temperatures literally kill the fungi and bacteria responsible for decomposition. If it is too cold, the microorganisms are too inert, and composting takes far too long.
So, how do we match the perfect conditions for our microorganisms? We found inspiration in the food industry. In what is known as horizontal mixing, biological biomass is stirred up at low temperatures to extract sufficient water from the food.
The foundation was laid, and an insightful experience was gained. We developed the first fully functional prototype. One last hurdle? The resulting smell. Our aim was to develop a super convenient kitchen composter that we would like to have in our kitchen. We used activated carbon filters from cooker hoods to make KALEA completely odorless and we also used a heat exchanger from a discarded Smart that was small enough for our slim design. But KALEA was not only meant to be stylish but above all else, functional. That's why we developed a unique 2-chamber system that allows KALEA to be filled at any time.
In 2018 during Christmas we gave ourselves the biggest gift: With the help of a development partner, we put the finishing touches on KALEA and one week before Christmas Eve we were able to produce the first version of the almost perfect KALEA kitchen compost. Kitchen waste was composted in only 48 hours with a nearly perfect KALEA kitchen composter.
Compost is not just compost!
One of the most beautiful takeaways and the most important part of our development process: KALEA produces real compost. This means that the filled organic waste has been completely processed and composted and is therefore particularly rich in nutrients. You can fertilize your plants directly with the fresh KALEA compost. Why is this important? There are many reference products that advertise the production of compost. But in reality, they only produce shredded and dried organic waste. In the worst case, this can be dangerous for your plants, because organic waste can continue to ferment in the soil and release toxins.
From a food processor to a fully automated kitchen composter, which produces fresh, nutritious, and genuine compost. Slim, robust, fast, and super smart. For us, it is clear: KALEA is the best kitchen composter ever! With our V4, we now make it perfect - and soon you too can make fresh KALEA compost at home.