P16487: Biochar Kiln Heat Recovery System

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

During Phase I of our project, our team sought to identify a concrete solution to the problem of excess heat during the charring process for the Kon Tiki bio-char kiln. We wanted to brainstorm as many feasible solutions as possible before refining our list down to one ultimate process. As a team, we considered several different ways of recovering heat from the burning process. After several meetings and no small amount of research, we have decided to put the recovered heat towards water pasteurization.

Project Summary

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.

See 1 Page Project Summary

Use Cases

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

Customer Requirements (Needs)

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PDF version: Customer Requirements

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Full spreadsheet can be found here


House of Quality

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Design Review Materials

Plans for next phase

Customer Interaction Deliverables
Data collection Functional decomposition
Brainstorming from experience Concept generation
Iterations Feasibility/Engineering Analysis
Concept Selection

Detailed Team Shared Vision for phase II

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