West Lafayette Public Library Biowall

Biowall is a device that cleans indoor air using plants and growth media. The growth media contains a microbe community that captures and breaks down Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and Particulate Matter (PM).

The Biowall has tray filled with Coconut coir, activated carbon, and aerating chips, and pulls air through them. The roots of the plants in the growth media then absorbs the broken-down contaminants into the plants. This process is called Phytoremediation 

The building of the Biowall was led by four students from varying education levels and background, and with the assistance from two student organizations. 


The Biowall needs to be able to:

  • Fit in the space available in the West Lafayette Public Library 
  • Be engaging with children. 
  • Explain how it works and improve on the previous generation
The designing of the Biowall allowed students to improve their Computer Aided Design (CAD) skills, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and problem-solving skills while working with a metal machine shop and non-metal laser cutter. 
To complete the project, students from two student organizations were recruited, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Purdue Student Branch and Boiler Green Initiative (BGI). 

Reflection and Conclusion

A major challenge that students faced during the Biowall project was the lack of information on past designs decisions.
  The students planned together to make a list of the potential solutions and discussed the engineering constraints and narrowed down solutions to finalized on the best solution. 
 Going forward, the team recognized the importance of providing clear explanations for their design decisions to benefit future development.