Asee peer logo

An Interdisciplinary Senior Design Project to Convert Agricultural Residues to Solid Fuel Pellets

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Topics in Biomass and Gasification Processes

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.179.1 - 23.179.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Wookwon Lee Gannon University

visit author page

Wookwon Lee, P.E. received the B.S. degree in electronic engineering from Inha University, Korea, in 1985, and the M.S. and D.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from the George Washington University, Washington, DC, in 1992 and 1995, respectively. He is currently on the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Gannon University, Erie, PA. Prior to joining Gannon, he had been involved in various research and development projects in industry and academia for more than 15 years.

visit author page


Harry R. Diz Gannon University

visit author page

Harry R. (Rick) Diz is chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering and is the Cooney-Jackman Professor of Renewable Energy at Gannon University in Erie, PA. He is a professional engineer licensed in Pennsylvania and Virginia and earned a Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech. His research interests include surface water quality, wastewater treatment, and the conversion of organic wastes and agricultural residues into gaseous and solid fuels.

visit author page

Download Paper |


An Interdisciplinary Senior Design Project to Convert Agricultural Residues to a Form of Energy Source ASEE 2013 - Energy Conversion and Conservation Division AbstractIn this paper, we present a student design and research project conducted as part of aninterdisciplinary senior design involving three engineering departments. The focus of the designproject was on converting grape pomace to a form of pellets for an energy source, through thetorrefaction process.Agricultural residues are those vegetative materials produced around the world that are notuseful for their food or other value. One such material produced in the region, where theUniversity is located, is grape pomace. Grape pomace is the residual fruit solids remaining afterpressing plus the expended filter paper left from the vacuum filtration process used to extract thejuice from the press. In rare cases, the pomace can be used as fodder or fertilizer, but in mostcases, it is discarded as a waste and must be trucked from the fruit processing plant back to thefields where it decomposes, yielding little benefit to the farmer since it typically contains fewnutrients. As one of the nation’s grape harvesting regions, the region produces a large amount ofgrape pomace. The amount of grape pomace each harvest translates, at 50% moisture content,into about 5,000 tons of dry weight material. This presented a great opportunity for theengineering students and faculty at the University to work with an important local industry on ahands-on design, that is, study on the torrefaction process and creation of a system prototype,herein referred to as the biomass energy-source generator.The goal of the proposed project was to design a prototype system for the production of arenewable fuel from grape pomace, while contributing to achieving educational objectives ofthree engineering programs at the University. Toward this goal, the objectives of the proposedproject were as follow. Objective 1: To determine the optimum thermochemical conversionprotocol to efficiently convert grape pomace into a more useful biomass energy form. The formof the fuel would be similar to that of wood pellets and would replace them with a higher energydensity. Objective 2: To design the mechanical and heat transfer system to accept the rawmaterials and transform them into the finished product. Objective 3: To design a control andmonitoring system including on-site data acquisition, and transmission of the data to a remotecontrol center for the purposes of control, command, and monitoring of the entire system.The project team consisted of fourteen undergraduate students (four from ECE, seven fromMechanical Engineering, and three from Environmental Science and Engineering) and threefaculty advisors from the those departments. This paper will discuss project design, teamstructure and collaboration, and experimental details, and lessons learned, particularly onpromoting student learning and improving its outcomes.

Lee, W., & Diz, H. R. (2013, June), An Interdisciplinary Senior Design Project to Convert Agricultural Residues to Solid Fuel Pellets Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19193

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015