Team 21

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

Project Overview

IMBIB Custom Brews of Reno is looking to expand their current barrel-brewing process from a 45-gallon system to a 300-gallon system. Currently, the brewery has problems attaining enough hot water to fit their current needs and sees further issue from the implementation of a larger system. Team 21 – Happy Hour’s project seeks to provide a concurrent solar-thermal water heating source to their current system. The team will build a prototype of the system, which will also have the ability to act as a stand-alone project for home-brewers who have 10-15 gallon systems.

The project must collect the sun’s energy and transfer its heat to a fluid, which will then be used to heat water within a tank. The prototype must produce the required amount of hot water in a safe and timely manner. It must do this without endangering the health of the operators nor consumers of the product. Efficiency is an important factor for the system and it must be convenient for everyday use.


Proof of Concept

Panel Heat Capacity Test – In the first concept division, the team will test the maximum temperature a Sunvelope panel can reach without using natural convection or flow of fluid. The panel will be capped off at either end to prevent fluid flow and set in direct sunlight. The internal temperature of the fluid will be measured over the course of a day from sunrise (approximately 6:30AM) to sunset (approximately 4:30PM) in a hot location such as Las Vegas, Nevada. The test will be completed three times.

Transfer of Heat Test – In the following division, Happy Hour will pump five-gallons of hot tap water through a coiled stainless-steel pipe sitting in a five-gallon bucket of room-temperature water. The temperature of the water within the pipe and in the bucket will be measured simultaneously. When five gallons of heated fluid have passed through, the final temperature of the bucket will be taken and the heat transfer will be determined and compared to calculations. The test will be completed three times.

System Controllability Test – In the final division, the team will assemble and program an Arduino system that has an input of temperature as measured by a thermocouple, and an output of voltage to power one or many LED bulbs. A pot of water over a stove will be heated and the thermocouple will read the temperature. As the temperature rises, the team will see if the heat of the system can control how bright a single LED glows or if different amounts of LED’s can be powered at different temperature ranges.


Final design

Final product design specifications were determined through a combination of sponsor wants and team wants. The sponsor, IMBIB Custom Brews of Reno, expressed wants to be able to heat water or keep preheated water for brewing at a minimum temperature of 145 degrees fahrenheit. Additionally, it was expressed by the sponsor that the materials used for portions of the product in contact with water or beer product be made of food-safe materials. The team expressed wants for the product to be mobile for travel to innovation day, and for the product to be complete self-sustaining. Additionally, the team wanted the products budget to stay within the $1000.00 cap set by the course. Meeting all of these design specifications, IMBIB, or other home brewers who might be interested in the product, will be able to safely and autonomously prepare water for their brewing practices without the need for non-renewable heating sources or the need for unnecessary maintenance and work.

From a combination of these design specifications, the team developed a final design consisting of several components.

  • The Cart – The product is contained on a secure cart atop rolling 2” caster wheels. The design allows for easy and cheap development and manufacturing, mobility of the final product, and security for onboard components of the remainder of the product.
  • The Panel – Heat enters the system through a Sunvelope Solar Incorporated Solar-Thermal Panel ( and into fluid that runs through the enveloped panel’s inlet and outlet pipes. Specialized coatings on the panel allow for extensive heat collection.
  • Copper Heat Coil – Heat collected into the system is transferred to fluid that will be heated for brewing through a copper heat coil. The coil, ⅝” copper tubing shaped into a 1 foot diameter helix allows for heated fluid to travel through as it would through any normal pipe. Heat is transferred outwards from the coil into the surrounding fluid that the coil will simply sit in.
  • Storage Tank – To help increase the internal temperatures of the product to increase efficiency and temperatures of the brewing water, a storage tank will be installed following the coil. Hotter fluid will enter the top of the tank and the system will pull colder fluid from the bottom. This process will allow for the building of a heat gradient. This tank with a heat gradient will also assist with fluid movement within the product as the placement of the tank above the panel will allow for use of thermal syphoning.
  • The Pump – A pump with a 10 foot pressure head will be installed to move and control fluid upwards through the panel and through the rest of the system. While thermal syphoning is sufficient, use of a pump allows for controllability explained further below.
  • Control System – The pot of fluid being heated for brewing will have a K-type thermocouple suspended between the coil. The thermocouple in partnership with an Arduino Uno and a thermocouple amplification chip, will collect information about the temperatures of the system, and use said information to change the pumps flow speed. This can be used to optimize efficiency of heat collection and transfer, act as a safety system, and allow the product to be nearly autonomous.




For the fabrication of the Day Drinker, the team had to fabricate the steel frame by cutting square tube pieces to the proper length then welding it together. Flat brackets were welded to the ends of the upright pieces. Next a sheet of plywood was cut to proper dimensions and then stained to give it a proper finish. The wood and the steel frame pieces were then bolted together. After the fame was complete, the solar thermal panel, pumps, and pots along with the required piping were installed. The final components added to the assembly were the electric solar panel and the control system held within a black box with its wiring.



Testing and Results

To ensure maximum working condition, DayDrinker was tested in steps before it was tested as a whole. Control System & Pump Usage During proof-of-concept building and testing, the control system, with thermocouple, was tested by placing the thermocouple in different temperatures of water and observing the output to a small 5 volt motor. Results were found to be successful following debugging of code. Moving into the larger scale product, the same system was wired to the pumps with a transistor. The system was tested various times with different delay times.

The control system worked each time but was tested with different delay times to find the most efficient combination of timing. The control system was first to be tested as it was completely independent of the other systems. Holding of Water A fear while building, as the team was building its own tanks to hold fluid, were that the fluid system would leak. When it was filled with water the first time, it leaked quite a bit. Tanks and pipes were sealed better and during the second trial, there was still some leakage. With a bit more sealing, the tank held water during the third test and thereafter. Once the tanks were sealed, they held water just as they were meant to. Heat Collection & Heat Transfer Both the collection of heat and the transfer of heat were tested together. Due to a lack of time, the test was only done twice. The first time it was done was prior to Innovation Day and the second time was the day of innovation day.

During the first test, the product was tested a single hour and found to work without fault. The temperature rose suggesting that both heat collection and heat transfer were present. Efficiency could not be measured. During Innovation Day, the test commenced six hours and even more heat gain was found during testing. This test was somewhat inconclusive though about how much heat the product could truly gain though as draining and dying batteries disallowed motors to work properly the entirety of the day. However, testing that had been done showed that the product could collect and transfer heat.
Product Gains Found to be successful before and during Innovation Day, DayDrinker provides an efficient and green way to brew as a home brewer and even allows for controllability not usually found outside of higher-end products. Given our original problem from IMBIB, we have shown this method can be used to heat water without the use of outside energy sources and can be self-controlled, making it easier for the user to focus on other aspects of life while still being able to enjoy the joys of home brewing.

While the product has not been tested with many customers, presentation to IMBIB found that the product met the organizations needs in a small-scale form and act as a proof-of-concept for the future endeavors of the company to go large-scale. The product is able to heat water, use it for brewing, and does not require much time or resources of the user. The customer was quite happy with the present product and how it will can be used to teach the community about the joys of brewing and solar in the future.


Meet the Team


Nathan Cole

Nathan Cole is from Elko, Nevada and is a graduating senior at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Mechanical Engineering. He is the vice-president of Nevada STEM Club as well as the co-founder and vice-president of the Nevada Robotics Society. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. For the last four summers, he has been an intern at Barrick Gold Corporation, gaining experience in project management, maintenance, construction, and operations. After graduation, Nathan is interested in pursuing a career in mechanical design and manufacturing.



Justin Charles Major

Justin Major is a graduating senior in Mechanical Engineering and Secondary Math Education from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is the founding president of the Nevada STEM Club, part of eight professional organizations, and is known for his work in the local STEM education community. He has been awarded nine service-related awards in recent years. Additionally, Justin is currently in his third year of undergraduate research under Dr. Adam Kirn researching student motivation, student identity development in active learning environments, and student teaming experiences. Post-graduation, Justin plans to pursue a doctorate degree at Purdue University in Engineering Education and further, teach introductory engineering courses. Justin currently has four published works:

  • Major, J., Kirn, A., (2016) The Role of Project-Based Learning in Engineering Identity Development. Abstract submitted.
  • Miller, B., Anderson, M., Poston, J., Major, J., Kirn, A., Feil-Seifer, D. (2016). Unplugged Robotics for Engaging K-12 Students in Computing. Manuscript under revision.
  • Major, J., Kirn, A., (2016) Engineering Design Self-Efficacy and Project-Based Learning: How Does Active Learning Influence Student Attitudes and Beliefs? 2016 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Meeting.
  • Major, J., Boone, H., Tsugawa, M., McGough, C., Kirn, A., and Benson, L.. (2016). Engineering Student’s Perceptions of the Future: Transferability and Replication of Time Perspective Classifications. 2016 National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Annual Meeting.


Kenneth Allison

Kenneth Allison is a fourth year graduating senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, from Las Vegas, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. During his career at UNR, Kenneth served as the vice-president of the UNR chapter of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of Theta Tau Co-Ed Engineering Fraternity.  Additionally, he was involved in Wolf Pack Racing, the Nevada Robotics Society, and is a founding member of the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge team at UNR. Kenneth is currently working as an engineering intern at NV Energy.  In the future, Kenneth wishes to advance technology with a career related to mechanical systems such as robotics.



Stephen Chew

Stephen Chew is a graduating mechanical engineer with a passion for discovery.  Stephen was born and raised in Reno, Nevada.  Throughout his academic career at UNR, he has been involved with several extra-curricular organizations.  He is a founding member of the Archery Club, an active volunteer with Circle K, a member of the professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau, has taught K-12 students about engineering through the Mobile Engineering Education Lab, and UNR’s Human Exploration Rover Challenge.  Stephen has been expanding his engineering knowledge through his internships at Hamilton Robotics and CR Engineering.  He is excited to enter industry and learn and experience the diverse field of engineering.


Pablo Cortez

Pablo Cortez is a senior in Mechanical Engineering from Elko Nevada. He has a passion for learning how mechanical systems work and how they are manufactured. Pablo has had internships with Barrick Gold Corporation and CarWil LLC in the past summers. He is involved in recreational sports at the university, competing in intramural soccer, and enjoys many outdoor activities. Additionally, he is an active member in the local chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.










Project Sponsorship: Matt Johnson Owner – IMBĪB Custom Brews of Reno Email:

Financial Sponsorship: University of Nevada, Reno College of Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering Contact: Nicholas Maus –

Project Mentors: Auguste Lemaire Owner – Sunvelope Solar Incorporated Email:

Dr. Angelina Padilla Lecturer – University of Nevada, Reno College of Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering Email:

Artwork: Leah Chew Designer – KPS3 Marketing Email: