Biosystems Engineering student teams, enrolled in the two-semester biosystems design capstone experience, BE 485/487, develop, evaluate, and select design alternatives in order to solve real-world problems. Projects are diverse, but each reflects systems thinking by integrating interconnected issues affecting the problem, including critical biological constraints. The engineering design process is documented in a detailed technical report. Teams present project designs to engineering faculty and a review panel of professional engineers for evaluation. Each BE 485/487 capstone design team prepares and presents a design solution in report, poster and oral formats to an industry advisory board, faculty, peers and the public that:
- Requires engineering design
- Uses a holistic approach
- Combines biology and engineering
- Interprets data
- Solves a real problem
- Evaluates economic feasibility
Biosystems Engineering students participate in Spring Term Design Day. The following were the project sponsors and projects for the Spring of 2016:
WasteWater Warriors: Industrial Biosolids Digestion Project
The Dow Chemical Company operates an aerobic digester to reduce the mass of the biosolids removed from their secondary clarifiers. Due to the high cost of operation, Dow has asked the “WasteWater Warriors” to improve their biosolids digestion system. The team generated design alternatives with the goal of increasing system performance while simultaneously lowering operational costs. The final deliverable was an engineering design report describing and comparing the proposed solutions. An economic analysis, process flow diagram, and a summary of expected improvements were completed in order to select the optimal design.
Sponsor – Dow Chemical (project under non-disclosure agreement agreement)
Faculty Advisor – Dr. Steve Safferman, P.E.
Waste Watchers: Food Waste Management: Generating a Waste-to-resource Product
Meijer is a regional supermarket chain interested in reducing their environmental impact. This project involves designing a food waste management system at one of Meijer’s distribution centers capable of producing a waste-to-resource product. The Waste Watchers conducted an environmental and cost analysis to determine the current impact of the project sponsor’s food waste disposal practices and recommended alternative systems. The team also designed a complete composting system to manage the company’s food waste and generate a finished compost product. The final design included a feedstock recipe and end product quality, as well as a cost analysis.
Sponsor – Meijer (project under non-disclosure agreement)
Faculty Advisors – Dr. Ajit Srivastava, P.E.
Compost Kings: Pilot-scale Compost Unit Design: Monitoring Chemical Degradation
Dow AgroSciences is a leader in the production of common herbicides used in both the public and private sectors. Residuals of these chemicals in the environment can result in negative effects, including inadvertent plant injury and more. Understanding how these chemicals degrade in natural systems, such as composting, is important to ensure these residuals are non-threatening. An in-vessel composting system was designed, built, and tested in order to give Dow AgroSciences a method to perform future chemical life-cycle tracking tests. This in-vessel unit monitors important characteristics of compost through sensor technology, and serves as a base for process sampling. Samples can be analyzed to understand how herbicides degrade during a typical composting cycle.
Sponsor – Dow AgroSciences (project under non-disclosure agreement)
Faculty Advisor – Dr. Pouyan Nejadhashemi
Efficientneers: Optimizing Heat Transfer for Food Industry Application
The Efficientneers are working on creating a new design, for the shape and the material of a metal heating element that will yield a ten percent reduction in cooking time for a packaged food product while maintaining a more homogenous heat transfer across the heating element. This will be done on a computer model (COMSOL) that will show the optimization of the new design alternative compared with the original model. Project deliverables include these simulations on COMSOL, a sensitivity analysis on a range of material properties, and an economic analysis with an investment return rate of the final design.
Sponsor – Major Food Manufacturer (project under non-disclosure agreement)
Faculty Advisor – Dr. Kirk Dolan and Mr. Phil Hill
Envision Engineering: Label Quality Vision Inspection System
Perrigo is a leading global healthcare supplier. They use vision systems as a quick and reliable inspection tool during manufacturing processes. Inconsistencies with the vision systems used to inspect packaging cause downtime, create excess re-work, and utilize unplanned maintenance resources. Envision Engineering has been tasked with designing a solution to Perrigo’s vision system problems pertaining to label quality (wrinkles, tears, bubbles, etc.), and label presence (e.g., missing label). By designing a comprehensive solution, Envision Engineering aims to increase product quality and decrease risk associated with flawed pharmaceutical packaging.
Sponsor – Perrigo (project under non-disclosure agreement)
Faculty Advisor – Dr. Dan Guyer
PharmaCleanse: Optimizing Purified Water Use for Pharmaceutical Tank Cleaning
Perrigo, a leading global healthcare supplier, is working to reduce plant-wide water use. The purpose of this project is to improve water efficiency while cleaning and sanitizing tanks used for pharmaceutical manufacturing. The team, Pharma Cleanse, is working to identify areas associated with tank cleaning that could be improved upon to save water. In doing so, the team will provide the client with a detailed analysis regarding economics, testing procedures, testing results, and a scaling plan. After testing and data analysis, the team will also provide the client with a set of recommendations going forward.
Sponsor – Perrigo (project under non-disclosure agreement)
Faculty Advisor – Dr. Susie Liu and Dr. Jade Mitchell
Nutrient Moo-vers: Ultrafiltration of Anaerobic Digestion Effluent for Sustainable Management
MSU Land Management operates an anaerobic digester. Effluent is drained from the digester daily and it is stored in a holding tank. A few times a year the holding tank is drained for application on agricultural lands. However, not all of this effluent can be land-applied due to runoff potential and odor. Remaining effluent must be exported at a high cost. The “Nutrient Moo-vers” team has designed a system to separate some of the liquid from the effluent so that it can be better managed. The remaining nutrients can be land-applied for plant growth.
Sponsor – MSU Land Management
Faculty Advisor – Dr. Wei Liao, P.E. and Dr. Tim Harrigan
Froz-hen: Designing a Sustainable Conveyor System: A Frozen Food Application
JBT’s SuperCONTACT freezer is designed to freeze a thin layer of tissue at the base
of marinated poultry products prior to their discharge into a spiral freezer, which completes the freezing process. Currently, a disposable polyethylene film is used to convey products across the system’s cold plates to the next freezing step, which creates unnecessary waste and downtime. Froz-hen was assembled to design a reusable solution that will improve economic efficiency, maintain the production and quality of the SuperCONTACT system, and promote sustainable operations by reducing landfill waste and the environmental costs associated with producing the polyethylene film.
Sponsor – JBT FoodTech (under Non-Disclosure Agreement)
Faculty Advisors – Dr. Brad Marks, P.E.
R-Oil: Bio-oil Upgrading Through Continuous Electrocatalytic Hydrogenation
This project is coordinated with Tenneco, an automotive ride control and emissions products company. This project aims to electroreduce bio-oil produced through fast pyrolysis. Successful reduction of the bio-oil will increase energy content and decrease unwanted properties, such as reactivity. Electroreduction of bio-oils has primarily focused on neat model compounds and their mixtures in batch-divided hydrogen fuel cells (H-cells). These cells are characterized by high voltages and unwanted molecular hydrogen production. Configuring a continuous hydrogen fuel cell will minimize voltage and hydrogen production, improve efficiencies and reduce capital cost.
Sponsor – Tenneco
Faculty Advisors – Dr. Chris Saffron