UROP: Protoype design and lab-scale biochar production for energy use in cookstove

Term: Summer/Fall 2023
UROP Department, Lab or Center: MIT D-Lab
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Daniel Sweeney
Direct Supervisor: Dr. Priyabrata Pradhan
Compensation: UROP direct funding available if applicant accepted by February 14. Otherwise, credit or on volunteer basis.

About MIT D-Lab

D-Lab works largely on health, water, energy, and agriculture to achieve sustainable development goals through collaborative approaches. We have a long history of working with collaborators around the world to design and develop energy solutions for low-resource communities. D-Lab also offers dynamic, project-based energy classes during both semesters. More details on D-Lab research are available here.

Project overview

Over the last 20 years, D-Lab has been working with communities to provide improved cooking solutions and solid fuel use. In the past, we have made significant progress in char making and cookstove testing using biomass fuel. Currently, we are aiming to design, develop, and test an improved carbonizer for biochar production and share our finding with communities. To reduce time and initial design costs, SolidWorks tool can be employed for product prototyping. Experimental work can be carried out in the Burn Lab, simultaneously. We are looking for a motivated student to design prototypes, perform experiments, analyze results, and propose recommendations.

Key research questions

  • What are the design challenges in prototyping a carbonizer device?

  • What could be an optimal condition to produce high quality biochar?


Candidates should be interested in experimental work, SolidWorks or AutoCAD modeling, and bioenergy. Students with any engineering background are welcome.


Interested candidates should email Priyabrata Pradhan with a resume and brief explanation of why they are interested in this project.


Priyabrata Pradhan, MIT D-Lab Fulbright Postdoctoral Researcher