P16487: Biochar Kiln Heat Recovery System


Project Summary Project Information

A Kon Tiki, developed by the Ithaka Institute, is a cone style kiln that creates biochar from agricultural wastes and other biomass through the thermochemical decomposition of organic materials at elevated temperatures (pyrolysis). The Kon Tiki kiln is a cheap and simple design that optimizes biochar production while reducing carbon emissions. The kiln generally operates at temperatures higher than required, generating waste heat released into the environment. A Biochar Kiln Heat Recovery System would collect this excess heat to be repurposed for other heating applications. Current systems include overhead heat exchangers and coils added around the kiln, but these have either been proven to be ineffective or lack sufficient evidence to prove efficiency.

The goal of this project is to provide a cost effective working prototype that can efficiently recover heat as well as be easily manufactured and distributed to countries all over the world. The heat recovery system has to be compatible with the existing kiln and be easily operated by an individual with no technical background. The design should be easily replicated to provide adequate heat recovery of kilns located in places without access to critical building materials. Since Biochar Kilns are typically used outdoors, the system must also be operable in a range of climate conditions to accommodate weather extremities all over the world.

Combined System Model

Combined System Model


If you are interested in seeing our original Project Readiness Packet, click on the following link for the Project Readiness Package.

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Project Name
Biochar Kiln Heat Recovery System
Project Number
Project Family
Kon-Tiki Biochar Kiln
Start Term
2151 (Fall 2015)
End Term
2155 (Spring 2015)
Faculty Guide
Sarah Brownell, sabeie@rit.edu
Primary Customer
Kathleen Draper, kdraper2@rochester.rr.com
Sponsor (financial support)
Ithaka Institute, http://www.ithaka-institut.org/en/home

Team Members

Zak, Kent, Courtney, Kyle, Phung

Zak, Kent, Courtney, Kyle, Phung

Member Role Contact
Kent Derbyshire Purchasing/Sourcing kld4491@rit.edu
Courtney Smith Campus Relations/Drying Sub-System Lead cns6240@rit.edu
Kyle Bossung International Customer Contact/Water Sub-System Lead krb5210@rit.edu
Zak Gustavesen EDGE Administrator zwg1448@rit.edu
Phung Tran Local Customer Liason/Project Manager pnt4294@rit.edu

Table of Contents


Project Management

Project Photos and Videos

Planning & Execution

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


Sarah Brownell (Guide)

Kathleen Draper (Customer)

Dr. Robert Stevens (Subject Matter Expert - RIT)

Balz Baur (Subject Matter Expert - Serbia)

Hans-Peter Schmidt (Subject Matter Expert - Nepal)

Paul Taylor (Subject Matter Expert - Australia)