Epiphyte Build: Progress Report (with pictures)

Team Ephiphyte has been hard at work assembling all the parts and beginning the build in Penn’s Chemical Engineering laboratory. Here are some photos of the progress as it has been happening over the last two weeks.

Chuck assembling the cart that will hold Epiphyte:

Putting together the parts of the Filter Box, which will hold the sorbent panel in the middle:

JP showing the laser-cut aluminum panel that will form the sides of the sorbent panel:

Measuring the fan and filter box ends:

Laying out the 8020 parts of the frame:

One of the electrically-controlled dampers:

Will the frame fit into the filter box?

Spoiler: JP needed to cut about 1/4 inch from the frame pieces.

Looks great! Awesome to see this coming along!

Epiphyte Build Update: Sorbent Panel (9/29/2023)

The Sorbent Panel is nearly finished!

Members of the Epiphyte team went into the lab on Friday, September 29, and added the sorbent and the remaining complex pieces to the Sorbent Panel. This post will show the steps involved.

We started with the structure shown below–note the frame made of 80/20 slotted aluminum rails, the bolts and clevis pins, and the screen at the bottom of the 8"x8" sorbent well in the middle. The side that is on the bottom when the panel is resting as in this picture will be the front side of the panel, or Side 1, once it is installed, as that is the side that the air will blow in from.

The heater wires for Side 1 (seen zigzagging across the bottom of the sorbent well) were also already installed in previous build sessions; a number of thermocouples for monitoring temperature are also visible, with two of them attached to the heater wire with Kapton tape. (Note: there is more information about the heater system in this post: Epiphyte Sorbent Heating System: First prototype results).

We are ready to pour in the sorbent beads.

We ended up using almost exactly one 1-kg bottle of the 13X Zeolite sorbent.

Two more thermocouples are used to measure the temperature of the sorbent in its interior; they should ideally be located exactly at midpoint (1/2 inch away) between the two heating wires. Since these sensors are simply floating in the sorbent, it is tricky to get them positioned just right.

Next, stringing the back side (Side 2) heater wire, using the clevis pins and rubber grommets for support:

And placing the wire mesh to cover and contain the sorbent (same mesh is also on the front side); there are a number of pre-drilled holes for the clevis pins, bolts, and wires:

And buttoning it up with the back side aluminum plate; finally it is OK to sneeze:

Here’s a closeup of the sorbent beads in the panel:

We are not completely done yet; remaining steps are:

  1. Attach screw terminals for connecting the Nichrome heater wire to the feed wires.
  2. Add faceplate to side of panel, and drill holes to feed all the wires through.
  3. Apply sealant to wire hole, and try to plug other leaky places.

In the meantime, I couldn’t wait to try out the heater system, so I attached the feed wires with standard wire nuts:

Then I inserted the Sorbent Panel into the Epiphyte plenum, and connected all the wires to the electronic system:

I will present the results of the heater test in another post. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Heater test results are presented here.