Project Status Update – Air Filter


Our Biodesign project will be a filter that is placed on top of roofs and placed in air conditioning systems. The filter will be made from a compound of coffee grounds and potassium hydroxide that has been heated and then formed into a usable shape. The compound it able to absorb both methane and CO2 exceptionally well. Once the compound has been exhausted and absorbed the material can be used as a fuel source that burns much more cleanly than typical fossil fuels.


We have currently are awaiting some of our materials for the project but our two main components are coffee grounds and potassium hydroxide.


Coffee grounds

Coffee Grounds



Potassium hydroxide

Potassium Hydroxide


We currently have no code but we plan to have the code output information from a methane sensor for the user.  It will allow the user to know how much methane is in the air and when the filter has filled.


  1. (This week) For our project, we wish to make the compound in real life

2. (Nest week) Then place the compound into an existing air filter and have it absorb the gas

3.  (Last week) Once the filter is working we will make sensor to go along with it so that is it much easier for the public to use it

Group Member contributes:

Antonio: Help with research, programming, and designing.
Colin: Help with design, implementation, and programming.
Timothy: Help with construction, effects on world, and design.
Arturo: Help with the gathering of materials, coding, and building.



Look, Ask, Learn, Try – Timothy Vance


For our Biodesign project, we are planning on making a net that catches CO2 or methane so I needed to observe something having to do with air.  What I observed was a show that happened on April 2nd at the Mesa Arts Center named Brain Candy Live.  During the show, they not only talked about air and how it interacts with people but did many demos showing these properties. Some of their demos included machines that condensed air into rings and ones that showed how air reacts to different stimulation such as boiling.



Even though the show spoke a lot about air, they only briefly talked about CO2 and the subject of air pollution did not arise.  My time to ask was during the intermission they asked the audience to send them a question via Twitter.  The questioned that I asked was “Does an increase in CO2 effect the air in more ways than people mention?” For the rest of the intermission, I asked some people around the same question in the hope to uncover something new. Unfortunately, due the high amount of people attending the show they could only answer about 10 questions from the audience and mine was not chosen.  There was one question they answered that was on the topic of methane though and it did provide some amount of insight.


What I learned about from the question was that besides power usage methane has a few other uses such as:

  • Used in some plastics
  • Used in some papers
  • Used in some concretes
  • Used in some stage effects such as fog

As for the air pollution question that I asked the other attendants that evening most of them gave the standard answers like that is has longer lasting effect and that methane is a much stronger for on climate change.  This gave me the insight that if the public knew more about the harmful effect of theses gas it might give them more incentive to change the way that they do things.


As I had mentioned, during the show they had several demos that showed off the concepts they were describing and some of them had people from the audience come up to the stage.  The people were already chosen ahead of time and the show did prohibit photography, so all I can do is recount their tests. The one that sticks out in my mind is that they had a long tube that was knotted in the middle and they had two people from the audience blow into either end in order to fill in faster than the other person.  They were both given different techniques and they showed how one method is much more effective for collecting large amounts of air. This got me thinking about the net and how the more air it can collect the better it will do.  The better technique was to back up fro the end and to blow into it from a distance in order to collect more air.  SO when we are designing this net I will take this into consideration.

Project Proposal: Sensing Net

Project Proposal

Motivation (similar to the pitch, describe what problem, research question, or opportunity your project addresses): Air pollution, specifically Methane and Carbon Dioxide destroying the environment.

Related Work (do a quick search to see if other projects have tried to address a similar topic; find 2-3 similar projects):

Idea:  (what you plan to build, who will use it, where it will be used, and why it’s different from existing work):  We plan to build a net structure that may be able to used on buildings, bridges, boats, cars, over hospitals, personal homes.  It will specifically be designed to filter out either carbon dioxide and methane gas.

Impact on people, ethics, environment, culture (1-2 paragraphs):  Carbon Dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas. 0.04% of concentration is the normal level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. With 1 – 1.5% has a slight effect on chemical metabolism after exposure of several hours At 3%, carbon dioxide is weakly narcotic at this level, resulting in deeper breathing, reduced hearing, headaches and an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate. At 4-5%,  breathing becomes deeper and more rapid. Signs of intoxication becomes more evident after 30 minutes exposure. At 5-10% breathing becomes more laborious with headache and loss of judgment. At 10%, when CO2 concentration increases above 10%, unconsciousness will occur in less than one minute. Unless prompt action is taken, further exposure will eventually result in death. (

Methane is also a massive problem, accounting for twenty percent of the total radiative forcing from all the long-lasting global greenhouse gasses. While methane does not last as long as carbon dioxide, it is initially far more devastating due to how effectively it absorbs the heat of the sun. In the first two decades after release, methane is 84 times more potent than CO2.

    There are cities and towns around the Phoenix area that equal up to 72 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent ( Awareness and active implementation of the devices on buildings and structures, vehicles, and personal uses, would actively help minimize the carbon footprint.

Implementation: Create device(s) for sensing and filtering methane and carbon dioxide. Using LCDs and speakers for outputs. These will be installed into large cities or other areas with a high air density of CO2 by being placed on top and between buildings as well as possible on cars and on bridges.

Parts List (a tentative list of components you might use for this project):   Air quality sensors, LCDs, small speakers

Timeline and responsibilities of each group member:

Antonio: Help with research, programming, and designing.

Colin: Help with design, implementation, and programming.

Timothy: Help with the construction of prototypes, effects on the world, and design.

Arturo: Undecided


First week: Additional information collection & drawn concepts

Second week: First prototype ideas & building

Third week: Interaction on environments

Fourth week: Finalizing prototype

Fifth week/ Later: Additional corrections and improvements

Prototype Ideas:

>Large Sensor for buildings and other structures.  Has solar panels to help power it and places the power in storage for building use.

>Medium Sensor for cars, trucks, and boats.

>Small Sensor for personal usage.  Small rechargeable battery for the person to use for home electronics

Inputs: Air quality sensors

Outputs: LCD display, speaker

Veronika Volkova, Yue Liu, & Timothy Vance: Skill Review


For our skill review, we decided to make a project centered on public health with a smaller connection to plants.  We wanted to design a circuit that would be able to sense moisture in order to change the environment and structure.  If the moisture sensor found little water the structure would be open and be at normal temperature.  If a lot of water was found the structure would close in order to stop water from coming in and a heating pad underneath would activate.  A servo would control the structure but be were unable to calibrate the motor in order to do so.






Video Here

Timothy & Ryan’s Water Level Sensor


For our sensor and display project, we made a circuit that uses the moisture sensor as a means to determine the water level of a sample of dirt.  While out of the water, the display would say that the water level is low due to the lack of water as well as have a green LED blink.  When in the water the LCD would out print a number based on how much water was present and state the water level was high once past a certain threshold.


// Portion of code borrowed from
// Portion of code borrowed from

#include <SoftwareSerial.h>

SoftwareSerial lcd = SoftwareSerial(2,3);

//moisture sensor ints
int sensorPin = A0;
int led = 13;
int thresholdUp = 400;
int thresholdDown = 250;

void setup() {
//LCD startup

//clearing screen

lcd.write((uint8_t)0); //red
lcd.write((uint8_t)0); //green
lcd.write((uint8_t)255); //blue
delay(10); //time to adjust the backlight

//Moisture Sensor
pinMode(led, OUTPUT);


void loop() {

int sensorValue;

sensorValue = analogRead(sensorPin);

//clear screen

if (sensorValue <= thresholdDown){
//clearing screen

lcd.println(“Low Water”);
lcd.print(” Moisture”);

digitalWrite(led, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW

} else if (sensorValue >= thresholdUp){
//clearing screen

lcd.println(“High Water”);
lcd.print(” Moisture”);
delay(1000); //wait for a second, easier to read