Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

First Advisor

Bahram Nassersharif


Neptune-Benson has presented the Gods of Perlite with the task of designing a device that can automate the process of transferring the filtration medium, perlite, into their Defender filtration system models. In some European countries, perlite is viewed as a hazardous material. The design will minimize the amount of human contact, allowing Neptune-Benson to investigate expanding their market into those regions. This device operates as a vacuum pneumatic conveying system that will be responsible for ensuring at least one full filter change-out of at least 45 pounds of perlite. Through the preliminary stages of the design process, communication with the sponsor was vital in determining what they valued in each of the design concepts. Using a Quality Function Deployment chart the team was able to see that a small product footprint and a fully automated design were highly important and demanded qualities that must be incorporated into the final design. Many methods of engineering analysis took place during the engineering process to determine the feasibility and contents of the design specifications that led to the successful final prototype.

The team's first design is a combination of various team concepts that maximizes the capabilities of multiple demanded qualities of the sponsor along with easing the process for anyone operating a filter change-out on any Defender system. The spiked rail's needles penetrate through the bag allowing suction to pull the perlite through a vacuum and into the Defender. Through testing it was observed that this method would not successfully perform a change-out without introducing an additional force to account for the material properties of the perlite. As a result, e orts were put forth into designing, building and testing a redesign with a hopper and a mechanical auger. Just like the spiked rail, this apparatus can attach to the existing ex hose nozzle of the transfer vacuum that is supplied with each of Neptune-Benson's units. The testing of our re-design prototype was very successful and proved that the concept is feasible by transferring the perlite out of one bag at a rate of approximately 2.16 ft3/min. The perlite hopper system is on pace to cut the current time for a change-out in half. This system has room for continued optimization to the point at which it can appeal to consumers as an attachment to their Defender units.


Sponsor: Neptune-Benson