P16486: Test Rig to Characterize Biochar Housing Materials


Project Summary Project Information

The Ithaka Institute is a non-profit organization based on the research of carbon sequestration through the use and treatment of biochar, a coal substitute now being looked at as a possibility in housing materials. It is fairly new in research as it can produced from biomass via pyrolysis. The Ithaka Institute is in a pure state of research and in very premature stages of development.

This project is to design and test a testing rig to characterize biochar in housing materials and compare it to standard housing materials, with a focus on temperature and humidity changes. The primary test goal is to run heated, cooling and humidity tests to see if the test rig can record the data, which will lead to conclusions on the effectiveness of biochar. Some of the constraints for this project include the following: a budget of $500, it must be portable, it must accommodate different wall materials and types, it also must be able to accommodate quick changes in test materials as well as be self-powered.


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Project Name
Test Rig to Characterize Biochar Housing Materials
Project Number
Start Term
End Term
Faculty Guide
Dr. George Slack
Primary Customer
Kathleen Draper, kdraper2@rochester.rr.com
Sponsor (financial support)
Ithaka Institute

Team Members

From left: James Reitano, Lakeishia Brown, Prasanna Parthiban, Kimberly Eklund, Domenico Colati, Sari Houchaimi

From left: James Reitano, Lakeishia Brown, Prasanna Parthiban, Kimberly Eklund, Domenico Colati, Sari Houchaimi

Member Role Contact
Domenico Colati Team Lead dac4732@rit.edu
Kimberly Eklund Mechanical Engineer/Purchasing kae4786@rit.edu
Prasanna Parthiban Mechanical Engineer/Design pxp3933@rit.edu
Sari Houchaimi Mechanical Engineer/Critic sxh4088@rit.edu
Lakeishia Brown Electrical Engineer lab6984@rit.edu
James Reitano Electrical Engineer jmr8607@rit.edu

Table of Contents


Planning & Execution

Project Photos and Videos

Imagine RIT

Problem Definition

Systems Design

Subsystem Design

Preliminary Detailed Design

Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep

Subsystem Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test with Customer Demo

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation


We would sincerely like to acknowledge Kathleen Draper for her support and guidance, as well as for sharing her knowledge of Biochar. We would also like to thank Sarah Brownell for the amount of information she has provided as well as explaining exactly what needed to be done. Additionally, we want to acknowledge Dr. George Slack for making us always ask "Why" to obtain all of the information we needed to undergo this project successfully. Lastly, we want to thank the MSDII team that clarified for us how biochar can be used to making housing materials!