Civil 1 - EPA P3, Phase II

Student Team: Joshua Arreola, Spencer Fry, Lorena Croucher, Richelle Mechenbier
Advisors: Dr's. Mara London, Noel Bormann & Pat Ferro
Sponsoring Organization: EPA P3 Awards
Liaison: Dr. Mara London, Noel Bormann

Project Information:


P3 Phase II Project Description:

The Phase I outputs and outcomes provide a foundation upon which the refinement and implementation of the project can be accomplished. Phase II activities will complete the development of sustainable technologies to support safe drinking water and improved indoor air quality in homes. Social entrepreneurship will empower women by providing education, training and a business structure to introduce filter systems and TE-powered kitchen ventilation system into a community, while also establishing a process that supports sustainable economic resources for long term project growth. The application of agricultural byproducts in cooking stoves that could replace typical three-rock fires for cooking will also be evaluated for selected stove designs. A demonstration workshop will be established in Zambia to manufacture project outputs during two summer field seasons. The project will include junior and senior students from Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Management, Business, and Environmental Studies departments to encourage effective and broad based understanding of the project solutions. 

Objective 1:  Provide educational experience in cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary, sustainable engineering project. (CENG, MENG, ENGMgmt, BUS, ENVS). The project team will gain valuable experience that will enhance the educational outcomes for team members who participate in this project. The team will complete this problem-based learning (PBL) project in a cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary setting that will be invaluable in future engineering and development work. Educational experiences that provide PBL projects with hands-on cross-cultural experience remain unusual and have been shown to be very effective in improving educational outcomes (23).

Objective 2:  Optimize filter mold, press, and ventilation system design. (CENG, MENG, ENGMgmt) Work completed in Phase I suggests further improvements that would serve to optimize production of the ceramic water filters and TE powered ventilation. During 2012-2013, the team will examine the design and production details of filters, kiln requirements, TE connections to a variety of stoves (for example, StoveTec (24) and Apostol (25) stoves are available at this time, others will be considered) and charging circuit design. In 2014, the team will complete the refined design documents for the ceramic water filter, press, kiln, and TE ventilation system for implementation in the 2014 field season. In addition, this activity will include an evaluation of cooking fuel that is composed of corn stover agricultural by-products. If useful in commonly available cooking situations, fuel wood consumption and the attendant deforestation would be reduced.

Objective 3:  Develop the design of a small workshop facility to produce ceramic filters and TE powered ventilation systems in Africa. (CENG, MENG, ENGMgmt). In conjunction with project partners, the project team will develop the construction drawings for a ceramic water filter manufacturing facility. These facility drawings, along with a social business plan and an economic analysis, will be prepared for review by the project partners. The current project team has identified two possible partners and related locations for the workshop: Chimfunshi, Zambia; or Zambezi, Zambia. Gonzaga University has established relationships and supportive project partners in both of these locations. Emphasizing sustainable construction practices, the facility will utilize local and repurposed materials such as shipping containers. These drawings will be provided to the project partner selected during 2012-2013 to guide the procurement process for the summer field seasons. Local knowledge provided in the development of the design documents will be highly valuable for project success. The Gonzaga team will assist with the building of the workshop during the two summer field seasons.  

Objective 4:  Apply concepts of Social Entrepreneurship to establish an enterprise to support a sustainable economic basis for continued dissemination of the project outputs. (CENG, MENG, ENGMgmt, BUS, ENVS). The implementation plan developed in Phase I establishes the outlines of a social business that would allow the manufacture of filter and ventilation systems in a sustainable manner (22, 23). The refinement of the organizational structure of the enterprise will be completed so that the local partner’s social business can be replicated in other locations without additional outside funding from NGOs. The enterprise organization will be initiated in the Summer of 2013 with input from the project team. An on-site workshop manager, selected by the project partner, will be responsible for daily operation of the workshop and for gathering information that will be used in 2014 to improve the workshop organization. Oversight of the manager will be accomplished by the local representative of the project partner in consultation with the project advisory board (PAB), detailed below in the evaluation section.

Objective 5:  Construct work shop and implement social business during summers. (CENG, MENG, ENGMgmt, BUS, ENVS). The team will make two trips to Zambia to develop the workshop and train workers and sales women. In 2013, the basic workshop will be established with the goal of producing 20-30 filter systems a month and 4-6 ventilation systems a month. In 2014, the workshop will be improved during the summer field season and the production goals will be doubled to 40-60 filter systems per month and remain at 4-6 TE systems per month. Improvements will be based on evaluation of the first year’s operations by the PAB. 

Objective 6:  Develop documentation that encourages use of the first facility as a model for improvement and replication at locations throughout the developing world. (CENG, MENG, ENGMgmt, BUS, ENVS). In order to provide a method to use the experience gathered during the project to assist other groups in implementing this technology, the team will prepare technical articles and conference presentations for publication in 2014. In addition, the project partners will be given the documents developed in the completion of the project so that other NGOs can share and use them in similar projects.

Objective 7:  Develop design documents, project report, and National Design Expo. (CENG, MENG, ENGMgmt, BUS, ENVS). The project documents and first 18 months of performance will be summarized for presentation at the 2014 EPA P3 National Design Expo in Washington, D.C. Presentation at this event will serve to promote the dissemination of the project outputs and outcomes and will provide an opportunity to use other channels of media exposure such as the Planet Forward broadcasts.

Overall Actual and Potential Sustainability Benefits of the Proposed Project

The proposed project offers increased sustainability in production of ceramic water filters that consume fewer resources. Reduction of fuel wood required for firing the kiln and the reduction of fuel wood due to the potential for use of corn stover as cooking fuel will reduce costs to a family adopting the technology and reduce the deforestation of the surrounding lands. These benefits will promote prosperity and preservation of the resources on the planet. The drinking water provided from the filters will promote increased health and prosperity for each user’s family. The adoption of the TE powered ventilation system will improve health for those women and children exposed to wood smoke during cooking. In addition, any excess power generated by the TE system during the cooking periods can be stored in a lead-acid battery and be used for home lighting and the charging of cell phones. Lighting and charging cell phones is relatively expensive in Zambia, so use of the system could increase prosperity of the adopters. 


The proposed filter design requires less material and fuel to produce. It is amenable to repurposing and easier to ship without damage, making it a more sustainable application for water treatment. Use of TE power to ventilate the particulates and combustion pollutants from a kitchen allows the use of waste heat from a cooking fire that would be needed even if electrical power was not required and thereby turns a necessity into a virtue. The power can also be stored for later use for either lighting (e.g., using LED lamps) or cell phone charging, thereby reducing the health impacts in the home from kerosene lamps and improving each family’s prosperity. A corn stover biofuel is carbon-neutral because local maize fields are typically burned at the end of every harvest and use of the stover for fuel would reduce field burning and the consumption of fuel wood in the home. This proposed project evaluates the corn stover biofuel for suitability as a cooking fuel when using both a traditional three-rock fire and cooking stoves.

Partnership with the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust (CWOT) and/or the Catholic Diocese of Solwezi (CDS) near Zambezi will be important to the team as a reliable source of “on-the-ground” information and to provide insight and information throughout the project. Cross cultural knowledge can mean the difference between a successful sustainability project and one that fails. Cultural sensitivity is essential in the development of the social entrepreneurship enterprise for implementation of the project outputs in an economically sustainable manner.


Challenge Definition and Relationship to Phase I

            The challenge for the proposed project is in four areas that are follow-on issues from Phase I: (1) refining the functional filter design so that sales cost is feasible for adopters, (2) improving the connection of TE cells to the cooking heat source for improved power production, (3) developing the entrepreneurial plan using more detailed information on production costs and sales forecasts, and (4) completing the testing for filtration performance under different flow rates and burn tests for corn stover pellet fuels. These challenges were addressed in a preliminary manner in Phase I and can be resolved in Phase II. 

The evaluation of the project and outcomes will be done in two related process: an academic evaluation, which will be organized in the team members’ courses and curriculum, and a parallel project-based evaluation, both are shown schematically in Figure 9. The academic evaluation involves three evaluators, each evaluating two categories of outputs. This process provides the team members with a grade and written feedback at least three times each semester during the project. The Design Advisory Board, a group of professional engineers organized by Gonzaga’s Center for Engineering Design and Entrepreneurship (CEDE), meets with all senior design teams to evaluate project progress, written materials and presentations.

Due to the complex nature of this international project, a Project Advisory Board (PAB) will be established for the project-based evaluation. This process also has three evaluators, each evaluating two categories of outcomes/outputs. 

The PAB will evaluate the cooperation between the team, the partner, and the PAB. Feedback from the PAB will be provided to the team and partner each semester. At the end of each semester the faculty advisor for the team will evaluate the team and partner interaction and their ability to productively exchange ideas. At the end of each field season the advisor will also evaluate how well the project results are accepted by the partner. The project partner will provide an evaluation and feedback to the team and to the PAB about the team’s ability to meet the partner’s needs and how well the project is accepted. Evaluation summaries will be distributed by email.

The completed project will establish a functioning workshop where these new systems are made using local workers, local materials, and a way to provide continued funding.


Integration of P3 Concepts as an Educational Tool

            Gonzaga University is a private, comprehensive, primarily undergraduate university that has provided engineering education for more than 75 years and that offers majors in five engineering specialties. The Civil Engineering program has strong content addressing sustainability. The Mechanical Engineering program contains courses on design for manufacturability and sustainable design/material selection. Gonzaga students have completed projects in Benin, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Sudan during the past seven years, thereby gaining valuable experience. All of the courses listed below incorporate examples of P3 concepts and general concepts of sustainability. Also, a growing program of social entrepreneurship is fostered in Gonzaga’s School of Business, the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. There is also a campus program sponsored by the Kern Family Foundation through its Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN). 

The specific courses that contain educational content used by the team:

•     CENG/MENG 491 and 492 Senior Design, organized by CEDE and taught by Bormann and Ferro.

•     CENG 303 Introduction to Environmental Engineering, taught by London.

•     CENG 305 Environmental Engineering Laboratory, taught by London.

•     CENG 424 Physiochemical Treatment Processes, taught by London.

•     CENG 454 Biological Treatment Processes, taught by London.

•     CENG 404 Sustainable Systems and Design, taught by Niezgoda.

•     CENG 415 Masonry and Timber Design, taught by Nowak.

•     MENG 301 Manufacturing Processes, through which students will have access to a full range of machine tools and welding and fabrication facilities, taught by Ferro. 

•     MENG 477 Material Selection for Design, taught by Ferro.

•     ENTR 201/ BENT 493 Social Entrepreneurship, which will support economic analysis and business development, taught by Stevens.

•     ENVS 322 /POLS 375 Global Environmental Politics, taught by Isacoff.

•     ENVS 326/SOCI 383 Environmental Sociology, taught by Staff.

•     ENVS 370 Environmental Health, taught by Staff.

•     ENVS 499 Symposium in Environmental Studies, taught by Staff.


At the completion of this project, the team of Gonzaga students will have learned several techniques applicable to sustainable engineering through a multidisciplinary, international project that provides tangible benefits. The student team members will have been exposed to ideas they wouldn’t normally see in the context of an undergraduate education that will enhance awareness of global environmental issues. This experience will empower them with important skills to apply in the workforce or graduate school. .

Interdisciplinary Teamwork

The proposed student design team will require close cooperation between Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Management, Business and Environmental Studies students. The teams also will be working closely with project partners with backgrounds in widely varied fields and with local mec


This project will have a very strong and active partnership with three NGOs each with decades of experience in Africa:  the Catholic Diocese of Solwezi (CDS) near Zambezi, Zambia; The Small World Educational Foundation (SWEF) headquartered in Spokane, WA; and the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust (CWOT) located in the Northern Copperbelt region of Zambia. Via e-mail communication, the selection of materials design features and business practices will be influenced by our partners’ local knowledge of culture, shops, tradesmen, and costs. Additionally, all three organizations will act as consultants, aid in the evaluation of the business plan, and provide the location and logistical support for the summer field evaluations in 2013 and 2014. Other partners that are at Gonzaga University will also be involved: the Center for Engineering Design and Entrepreneurship (CEDE), the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN) at Gonzaga, the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program that is operated in the School of Business at Gonzaga, and the Environmental Studies program. Each of these partners will contribute a representative to the Project Advisory Board (PAB) to assist with project management and project evaluation.

502 E. Boone Avenue
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Phone: (509) 313-3523
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Dr. Stephen E. Silliman
Phone: (509) 313-3522