Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering

Degree Level



Biological and Agricultural Engineering


Costello, Thomas A.

Committee Member/Reader

Osborn, G. Scott

Committee Member/Second Reader

Liang, Yi


For this Honors Thesis project, I designed and fabricated a ventilation and recirculation airway sub-system prototype for a hydroponic demonstration unit to be used as an educational demonstration for prospective students, illustrating the capabilities of biological engineers. This thesis focuses on the design of an autonomous air system that toggles between ventilation and recirculation modes based upon sensor output. In the literature review I discuss how ventilation can be used to achieve a targeted climate, the benefits of hands-on projects for education, and the optimum parameters for growing herbs in a hydroponic system.

In the design and fabrication process, every effort was made to make the air system efficient and observable to improve the educational value of the system. Tests were designed to evaluate the air speed and the operating mode of the system. The results of these tests showed that the system successfully toggled between ventilation and recirculation modes but did not provide the air flow rate to keep the plants at optimum conditions.

The prototype showed that ventilation was an effective source of cooling, dehumidification, and carbon dioxide provision; however, more analysis is needed before designing the final product. Further work is required to determine the peak required flow rate for ventilation, pressure provided by pipe, fittings, and air jet outlets, and selection of an optimal blower to meet the required ventilation flow rate given the pressure it will be operating under.


Hydroponics, Climate Control, Systems Engineering, Ventilation, Recirculation, Service Learning