Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Mechanical Engineering

Program or Major

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Ivaylo Nedyalkov

Second Advisor

Todd Guerdat

Third Advisor

Diane Foster


Started in Fall 2015, Project OASIS (Optimizing Aquaponic Systems to Improve Sustainability) is an interdisciplinary capstone project with the goal of designing a sustainable and affordable small-scale aquaponic system for use in developing nations to tackle the problems of malnutrition and food insecurity. Aquaponics is a symbiotic relationship between fish and vegetables growing together in a recirculating system. The project’s goals were to minimize energy consumption and construction costs while using universally available materials. The computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software OpenFOAM was used to create transient and steady-state models of fish tanks to visualize velocity profiles, streamlines, and particle movement. CFD and small scale experiments showed vertical manifolds were more efficient than horizontal inlets. The components’ layout was analyzed to minimize head losses and airlifts were used instead of traditional water pumps. Full-scale research and traditional systems were constructed for side-by-side comparison of biological and energy factors. Flow improvements and use of air-lift pumps dropped energy consumption 40% when compared to a traditional system of the same size. Using local and recycled materials where possible decreased the cost of the UNH pilot system by 27%.

The team also partnered with Forjando Alas, a non-profit in Uvita, Costa Rica. During a January 2016 assessment trip, four members spent a week gathering data and building relationships with the community to develop a user-centered design. Project OASIS also successfully competed in two entrepreneurship competitions this year.

Project OASIS URC Poster Final.pdf (2444 kB)
URC Poster