P18485: Biochar Concrete Roofing Tile Manufacturing and Complete Roof System


Project Summary Project Information


Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Overall, 46.2 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The 4walls project is a nonprofit organization that helps impoverished families obtain their own home by building them 20x20 houses with brick walls. Currently, the roofs of these homes are made of sheets of corrugated zinc or tin. However, this brings unwanted heat into the house, is very loud during rainstorms, and costs more than $400 per house. The goal of this project is to develop a cheaper, cooler, and quieter solution that uses local materials in order to support the local economy.

Problem Statement:

The corrugated zinc roofs cost too much and provide poor heat and sound insulation. Last year’s iteration of this project improved on the first iteration by proposing a wavy, overlapping tile design made of a mixture of biochar and concrete. They also developed a process for manufacturing these tiles. However, biochar is not as easily available as other potential building materials, most notably pumice. Our goal is to optimize a pumice-concrete mix that will results in cooler, lighter, and more affordable tiles. We also aim to design a tile for the very top of the roof, and to streamline and standardize the manufacturing process for both types of tiles, so that the design can be easily constructed by 4Walls and the citizens of El Sauce.

Test Roofs

Test Roofs

Project Name
Pumice Concrete Roofing Tiles: Manufacturing Process and Complete Roof System
Project Number
Project Family
Sustainable Technologies for a Global Marketplace
Start Term
Fall 2171
End Term
Spring 2175
Faculty Guide
Sarah Brownell, sabeie@rit.edu
Primary Customer

Kellan Morgan, EnLace Project

Bonnie Yannie, Project 4 Walls

Sally Kuehl, Project 4 Walls

Robert Boxer, Project 4 Walls

Sponsor (financial support)
Joel Blackner, Hess Pumice (joel@hesspumice.com)

Mike Hess Jr., Hess Pumice (jrmike@hesspumice.com)

Team Members

Team Pictures

Team Pictures

Member Role Contact
Derick Kowalczyk Project Manager, Sustainability Lead dgk6477@rit.edu
Matt Kardach Structural - Mechanical Lead mfk2386@rit.edu
Connor Radel Manufacturing Lead csr1231@rit.edu
Daniel Zinobile Customer Communications & Design Lead dxz3942@rit.edu

Work Breakdown: By Phase


Project Photos and Videos

Imagine RIT Exhibit

Gate Reviews

Problem Definition

Systems Design

Preliminary Detailed Design

Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep

Subsystem Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation (Verification & Validation)

Work Breakdown: By Topic

Project Management Design Tools Design Documentation Implementation Validation Miscellaneous Presentation & Dissemination




Final Cost

Final Risk Assessment

Use Cases


Functional Decomposition

Morphological Chart

Mechanical Drawings

Facility Layout

House Assembly CAD Files

All Other CAD Files


Test Plans


Test Results

El Sauce Trip

Technical Paper

Final Poster

Customer Requirements vs. Performance

Standard Operating Procedure

Imagine RIT Exhibit


Thank you to all listed for help and support throughout the project: