2019 Team27

Project Overview  |  Proof of Concept  |  Final Design  |  Fabrication  |  Testing and Results  |  Meet the Team  |  Acknowledgements

Project Overview

Kava De-Juiced is tasked with designing a root-drying system for the Kava root that is more effective than current drying methods. The most common drying method is an open drying system where the kava is solar dehydrated on metal sheets. Open drying the kava takes anywhere between 8 and 14 hours to fully dry. There must be 84% to 94% of the water-by-weight must be removed from the kava planet for it to be considered dried. The kava must be dried at a temperature of at least 80 °F and cannot go over 130 °F. While the kava is left out to dry, the root is vulnerable to environmental damages, theft, and molding. This causes the process to be time-consuming and wastes product. The drying system designed by Kava De-Juiced will solve these challenges by creating a system that encloses the root and dries it by using convection heating with dry, hot air and trapping the heat. The container will lock which will secure the root and the drying equipment. The tolerance to maintain the desired temperature of 110 °F is ±10 °F and the desired relative humidity of 10% ± 5%. These controls will allow the dryer to consistently dry out the kava and other products.


Proof of Concept

The kava drying system in development by Kava De-Juiced will impact the agricultural industry in developing Pacific nations. This marketplace has little competition because most farmers use traditional methods of drying crops like roasting over a fire or open drying using the sun’s heat. The product will compete directly with these basic drying techniques. Its advantage in consistency and drying speed must pose a significant advantage over the traditional methods to make the investment worthwhile to farmers. In addition to researching existing kava drying methods in Fiji and other islands of the South Pacific, the team has researched the properties of kava. By learning the optimal temperature and humidity to dry kava, the team can maximize the kavalactones present in the final product. Not only will farmers be able to dry their kava harvest easier, but they will have a significantly higher-quality product using Kava De-Juiced’s drying system.

The team plans on entering the market through a trial run at Bari ni Savu farm on Vanua Levu in Fiji. Kava De-Juiced plans on scaling product production as Bari ni Savu increases production of kava to work out any problems before selling to other farms. Once satisfied with the product, Kava De-Juiced will begin sales through farm equipment distribution centers in the South Pacific. Salespeople can demonstrate the clear benefit of the product compared to traditional techniques to sell the product. After establishing a market throughout these islands Kava De-Juiced will branch out to developing countries throughout the world, selling food and spice drying solutions to a wide range of agricultural centers.

Team Kava De-Juiced final design must reliably and consistently dry kava. An engineering analysis was completed to determine the validity of the original design concepts, a potential issue that was identified is the impact of humidity and the moisture content added to the air as the kava dries. Both of the initial design concepts had the kava in an enclosed structure. Based on the dry time for the calculated temperature, saturation level would be reached which would prevent the kava from drying during the estimated time. The proof of concept is designed to ensure the necessary amount of moisture can be removed from the air so that the kava can continue to dry efficiently by using ventilation as a potential solution. 


An experiment was designed to test a scaled version of the shipping container. By utilizing steam generators, moisture content is added to the internal structure to simulate the evaporation of water from the kava as it dries. The mass flow rate of the water vapor and air going in can be determined based on water loss measurements from the steam generators and velocity of the air leaving the fans. The measurement of the relative humidity at the outlet will provide the necessary data to determine the ratio of dry air-to-water leaving the container. The information obtained from the experiment can be scaled up to the dimensions of the shipping container. Using the conditions in Fiji for ambient air, the experimental data will indicate whether enough moisture can be removed with proportionally sized fans to prevent saturation level being reached. 


Final design

Team Kava De-Juiced has been tasked with developing a solution to the traditional Kava root drying technique utilized on the island of Fiji. The traditional local methods do not offer reputable product control. Kava De-Juiced’s final design encompasses a small enclosure made of corrugated steel and plywood in conjunction with a solar hot water heater system used to introduce heat into the small enclosure through a piping system. Once the hot water is in the enclosure, the properties of heat transfer are utilized to heat the inner space of the drying chamber. This is useful to Kava De-Juiced’s customer because they need a reputable and controllable method to dry the kava and this product delivers exactly that. The team has kept all these variables in mind when they outlined their Product Design Specifications.

The team agreed that consistency in the final dry product was one of the most important specifications. Scalability of production volume in combination with the ability of the system to secure said production volume is also a top priority. The cost to produce the system cannot be ignored and the team hopes to hold a development budget below $5,000.00. Finally, the team must keep in mind the material availability in a developing region such as Fiji. This means that Kava De-Juice’s system design must be constructed form materials readily available materials such as plywood and corrugated metal.






Testing and Results



Meet the Team

Collin Cole

Collin Cole was Born in Folsom, California, and moved to Kansas shortly after the fact. After six years in Kansas, Collin returned to California for first grade. Collin spent the rest of his childhood in Orangevale, California, attending Casa Roble Fundamental High School. Throughout Collin’s childhood both of his parents ran and owned an ornamental iron fabrication shop. Collin grew up around welding, black smiting, and general construction. During middle school and high school Collin played football and wrestled at a highly competitive level. The early exposure to team work and construction drove Collin to ask what the highest extension of those two disciplines would be. After much deliberation Collin decided that engineering was the highest combination of these two topics.






Chris Geiser


Chris Geiser was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. Chris is pursuing a dual major in Mechanical Engineering and Philosophy of Ethics, Law, and Politics with a minor in Mathematics at the University of Nevada, Reno. During his tenure, Chris was given the opportunity by the mechanical engineering department chair, Dr. Miles Greiner, to design and 3D print gifts for visiting professors and scholars to the department. He learned skills in time management, prototyping, outsourcing tasks, and creating a finished project in a professional setting. The 3D prints ranged from multicolored planetary fidget spinners to printing the new William N. Pennington Engineering Building. These adversities instilled a work ethic and ability to problem solve engineering projects while also innovating on previous ideas. Chris volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters where he meets with his little brother every week to mentor, teach, and support a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Chris has also developed a small tutoring organization named Meet Me Math (M­) where he tutors high school students in all levels of mathematics. After college, Chris intends to follow in his Father’s footsteps and work as a Lead Engineer at Southwest Gas while also developing M3 as a recognized organization to aid in the development of STEM-related teaching for future generations.


Brandon Morton

Born in Sacramento, Brandon Morton grew up in the nearby town of Rocklin, California. Brandon pursued a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering after wanting to distinguish himself as the first son in three generations to leave the golf industry. Brandon’s goal is to leave a lasting positive impact on his community through engineering. The most challenging project that Brandon has worked on was assisting in the development of a human-powered vehicle along with Luke Small at UNR. Brandon currently has an internship with Haws Corporation, where he drafts new configurations for safety equipment and drinking fountains and follows them through production, performing quality checks before shipping. Outside of his education and work, Brandon spends his time developing the 2018-2019 human-powered vehicle as the club’s senior design officer. After graduation, Brandon plans on joining or creating a startup venture that provides a product or service with a direct positive impact on the lives of others, such as Kava De-Juiced’s kava drying system.



Valerie Pober

Valerie Pober grew up in Incline Village, Nevada located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Physics projects, ceramics, woodworking, and participating in FIRST robotics in high school among other experiences encouraged Valerie to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science. As a result, Valerie understands the importance of providing students opportunities to inspire them for their future goals. With this in mind, she has volunteered for FIRST events in the Reno area the past three years. Valerie is currently a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno and is a recipient of the Redfield National Merit Scholarship. With making the Dean’s list every semester, Valerie’s desire to succeed comes from her strong work ethic and insatiable curiosity. Throughout her academic career, Valerie has developed her understanding of theoretical concepts, her approach to solving problems and troubleshooting, and her ability to effectively work on a team. As an introductory course to engineering, the hovercraft project in ENGR 100 presented many challenges in learning about the engineering process and working with people who have very diverse backgrounds. Ultimately, through maximizing the strengths of each team member and applying the necessary strategies in the design process, her team was successful in creating a working hovercraft beginning the continuous learning process of her college career. Since then, an internship with Hewlett-Packard in Corvallis, Oregon over summer 2018 gave her the opportunity to put these skills to use in industry in a project that required testing and data analysis to lead to a final recommendation. Through capstone and her remaining classes, Valerie plans on continuing to improve the skills that will make her a successful engineer. After graduation, Valerie plans on working as an engineer in industry and is considering pursuing graduate school in the future.


Luke Small

Luke Small was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. He loves Reno and the surrounding areas, so he chose to stay for his undergraduate education. In his free time, he loves doing puzzles and playing games with his family. After graduation Luke plans to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering before heading into the industry full time.  The most challenging project Luke has been involved with is the project that he helped build on the Human Powered Vehicles Team (formerly the UNR Human Powered Vehicle Team). His team, including Brandon Morton, designed and built a recumbent bicycle to be faster and more efficient than other similar vehicles over the course of eight months. Throughout his academic career he has developed his heuristic engineering skills and gained experience with applying physics and mathematical theory to help solve engineering problems. Luke had the opportunity to intern at American International Tooling, Inc. where he applied his knowledge of geometry to develop a process for the company to draw their products in SolidWorks.