Biochar 2022 Team: Nomunzul, Isabelle, Ananya, Bryana, Sebastian, Ayisha, Julia
Picking up from where we left off in winter quarter, the 2022 Biochar Team is eager to continue prototyping our biochar kiln and begin the prototyping process for our water filtration system! Connecting to our last blog post, our current kiln design is a small-scale prototype of a TLUD (Top-lit Updraft gasifier) made with a paint can, soup can, and tuna can. Last week, we reached a small roadblock, realizing that the dimensions of our soup can did not align with those of the paint can. This left a gap between the two cans, impacting the air flow. After hunting through local grocery stores, we believe that we have located the perfect candidate for our project: a Progresso Clam Chowder can from Stanford's very own Munger Market. Now, we are drilling the last few holes in our prototype (more detailed instructions here) at the PRL. Through this initial design, our team hopes to meet the critical user requirement of making safe-to-use biochar – not charcoal. After burn tests, we will test the output to assess the effectiveness of our prototype based on the quality of biochar produced, looking into the chemical composition of the biochar as well as its toxicity. A subset of our cohort is currently researching available testing kits for this step. Following a successful testing phase, our team anticipates scaling up (given positive test results) and focusing on ways to locally-source required materials for our partner communities in Ghana and Malawi. Furthermore, for the water filtration system, our team will use the biochar produced from our kiln or biochar that we purchase to develop the sand filter design. Through this, our team hopes to build cohesion between the Ghana and Malawi sides of our project by working on both simultaneously and consistently discussing the ways our partner organizations are both similar and different. Such conversations may affect the kiln and water filtration prototypes. By the end of the quarter, our team aims to build and design a large-scale biochar kiln and prototype a few filtration systems that possess the ability to produce safe drinking water.