Students research clay bricks for cook stove applications

Audriana Selby and Betty Beal, senior engineering majors, are researching the physical and thermal properties of clay bricks to help communities in Rwanda.

Under the guidance of Catherine Almquist, professor in the chemical, paper, and biomedical engineering department, Selby and Beal test different clay bricks to see what material will reduce heat loss and create more combustion while cooking. This goal requires the team to look into materials that have a low thermal conductivity and are not to expensive.

So, why did they decide to research this?

Clay Brick Research

Selby and Beal with the clay bricks they test            

Originally starting as an independent study during the 2018 spring semester, the project was then passed to Selby and Beal to continue testing and making of the bricks.

“This research was started by Miami’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, and we partnered with the school and community of Muramba, Rwanda. The school and community use open fire pits to cook their food, which is a large expense, and are extremely inefficient” Audriana explained.

Selby and Beal are trying to create a brick that will be less expensive and readily available to the communities like Muramaba.

In their research, Selby and Beal created bricks with different amounts of three materials: wood ash, wood chips, and vermiculite, a material used for insulation. These materials have been found to be favorable for cooking stoves, and the team hopes to see what combination makes for the most successful bricks for combustion.

Once finished with their project, Selby and Beal plan on presenting their research at the 7th annual International Congress on Sustainability Science and Engineering conference.

By Maggie Cavanaugh