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Dan Newkirk

Mechanical Engineering Technology

Dr. Bill Hutzel/Applied Energy Lab

Biofiltration in an Energy Efficient, Residential, HVAC System

UNDERGRADUATE/M.S. INSTITUTION:                            
Iowa State University




According to the U.S. EPA, the average American spends 90% of their time indoors where pollutants are two to five times more prevalent than outside. The consequences of these pollutants are estimated to cost the U.S. 125 billion dollars in lost health and productivity.   The Biowall is a new technology that addresses these concerns by leveraging the natural ability of plants to purify indoor air by reducing CO2 levels and removing volatile organic compounds.  It also has the potential to reduce building energy consumption by 25% with less outside air required for ventilation when integrated with an HVAC system.  This presentation reports on data collected from a Biowall that was grown hydroponically and evaluated in a controlled laboratory environment. Precise measurements of air temperature, air humidity, air quality and energy consumption were made under various lighting levels, plant species and watering strategies to optimize its performance. The Biowall has its place in high performance buildings of the future as it improves indoor air quality in a more sustainable way. In fact, the test methodology used to assess the improvements in indoor air quality from a Biowall may someday be part of a performance-based indoor air quality standard. 


"Perhaps not unlike other undergraduates in mechanical engineering, I made the mistake of going in to the discipline because I was “good at math and science” and I wanted to keep my options open. However, I quickly learned the traditional mechanical engineering jobs (design and manufacturing valves, gears, machines, etc.) did not interest me; I could not see their broader impacts. It was not until the summer after my sophomore year I realized my interest in thermodynamics and pursued this interest by conducting energy audits for the Iowa DNR as a Pollution Prevention Intern. This is where I found my passion, using my analytical mindset to help the environment and further society. I decided to further my education in the field by coming to Purdue, joining the ESE program to better understand global problems, working part-time at Purdue Facilities to apply my current skillset and developing technological solutions through my research."


ASHRAE Innovative Research Grant

P3 Award Recipient Phase I

2nd Place Poster, Ecological Sciences and Engineering Annual Symposium


ESE Symposium Logistics Manager and Peer Mentor

ASHRAE Student Chapter President and Treasurer

Purdue Energy Forum Member

USGBC Student Chapter Member