Rice Design for America
Design Innovation for Social Good
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Aquaponics

 

Aquaponics

Fall 2016

We are working with the Hermann Park Conservancy to design a kiosk for the McGovern Centennial Gardens.

 
 
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Introductions

Date: 09/24/16

Tell us about your team.

We have a diverse array of academic disciplines and skillsets, as well as matching neck tattoos. Christina Hahn (POLI/HIST), Manlin Yao (CSCI/ANTH), Coby Kaskel (BIOC), Mike Hua (MECH), Cesar Soto (CHBE).

 

How can we use more Post-It Notes?

How can we use more Post-It Notes?

Post-It Notes are our friends

Post-It Notes are our friends

Immerse

10/01/16

Did you conduct user interviews this week? If so what insight did you gain?

We have reached out to experts and potential users but have not conducted any formal interviews yet.

Describe related projects that have been done to address your problem.

Hydroponic systems in low resource areas have already been built on small, medium, and large scales.  The projects we have looked at mostly incorporated aquaponics as a way for self-sustainability, but we are planning on incorporating aquaponics as a way to grow a small business.

What do you hope to learn more about in the next couple of weeks?

We are going to learn more about aquaponic systems by building one in order to assess accessibility, ease of construction/maintenance.  We also wish to learn more about our client (how they work, what they do, what their resources are, etc) and how we could benefit them.

How can we provide refugees with the materials to incorporate usage of an aquaponics system in their lives?

How can we provide an environment for refugees to be empowered through use of an aquaponic system?

How can we empower children of our users with information and understanding to make a lasting gene impact?

 

 

 
Current state of our prototype.  We cut down a few pieces and have begun to assemble everything.

Current state of our prototype.  We cut down a few pieces and have begun to assemble everything.

Some additional ideation building off of the previous open studio’s ideation.  We have begun specializing and coming up with more specific ideas within a few realms of possibility that we drew up last time.

Some additional ideation building off of the previous open studio’s ideation.  We have begun specializing and coming up with more specific ideas within a few realms of possibility that we drew up last time.

Reframe

10/15/16

What are the biggest key insights you’ve gained for your project?

We started building our prototype this week to determine the feasibility/ease of creating a system.  So far, we have only completed about 10% of the work but so far it has been fairly simple.  We spent a relatively small amount of money on a fairly decent sized system using easily sourced materials.  The process has been moderately labor intensive and involves some tools.

What is your new HCW statement?

How can we provide an environment for refugees working with the Plant it Forward organization to be empowered through use of an aquaponic system?

What are your hopes for your project?

We hope that we can create a kit/instructional pamphlet that will be simple enough for anyone to understand. We want to build and design a couple of cheap and simple model kits for the refugees to try out and provide us with feedback. We also hope to further emphasize sustainability by utilizing recycled materials as parts to the kit if possible.

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Fig 1. Assembling the prototype by attaching the stand pipe and tank connectors that will carry the water into the fish tank. (Ft. Mike, Coby, Onur)

Fig 1. Assembling the prototype by attaching the stand pipe and tank connectors that will carry the water into the fish tank. (Ft. Mike, Coby, Onur)

Build / Test

Date: 11/05/16

What did you initially build / test? What does your prototype look like and how will you improve on it?

We initially built an ebb-and-flow aquaponics system. We will be planting and adding fish to this system soon. Our prototype looks home-made and not too beautiful. However, it does look like it does its job. We may improve upon this by reconsidering the holder tubs that we are currently using. The current tubs are blue and plastic. The scaffolding that we are using is a sparse wooden construction that we recently put together. We could brainstorm the type of message we want to convey through the aesthetic of our aquaponics system.

What do you plan on doing in the upcoming week?

  1. Improve the system in the following two ways
    1. Find a way to effectively filter the water
      1. Possible solution: we’ve implemented the microfiber cloth bag + sand solution, seems to be viable.  Water is clear after running filter system overnight.  Again, it’s very janky and not aesthetically pleasing but it is functional.  We can remedy the aesthetics later
  2. Find a way to reduce pump flow
    1. The major issue facing the system currently is the fact that the grow bed floods too often. The ideal flood frequency should hover somewhere around 1 flood per 1 hour (+- 5-10 minutes).  Currently the system is flooding once every 10-15 minutes.  This could possibly be remedied by attaching a 1” ID PVC end cap to the end of the vinyl tubing and drilling a small hole in the end of the cap, effectively increasing flow resistance, leading to lower flow rate.
  3. Buy fish
    1. Coby will be going to china town today to possibly pick up some live edible fish.  He will also be getting water dechlorinators and any other material required to cleanse Houston city water in a way that can support aquaculture.
  4. Write a step by step guide as to how we built this system
    1. Including all of the setbacks and solutions to those setbacks.
  5. Piece together the video journal
Fig 2. Drilling a hole to accommodate the tank connector. (Ft. Manlin, Cesar, Onur, Coby, and Mike, filmed by Christina)

Fig 2. Drilling a hole to accommodate the tank connector. (Ft. Manlin, Cesar, Onur, Coby, and Mike, filmed by Christina)

Fig 3. Completed functional medium-low fidelity prototype.  All of the functionalities associated with a working system are complete, now it’s a matter of tweaking it to optimize plant and fish growing conditions.  This picture shows the low-fi filter system, located on the top tank (small bag looking thing tied to the upright PVC pipe).

Fig 3. Completed functional medium-low fidelity prototype.  All of the functionalities associated with a working system are complete, now it’s a matter of tweaking it to optimize plant and fish growing conditions.  This picture shows the low-fi filter system, located on the top tank (small bag looking thing tied to the upright PVC pipe).