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Mechanical Engineers Provide Pedal-Power Threshing for Guatemala

Pedal-Power Threshing Machine

Beginning with an age-old agricultural practice of threshing, which separates bean seeds from their pods, four mechanical engineering students added a new twist: pedal power.

Designed as a low-technology, low-cost alternative tomanual threshing for developing markets,the innovative device was prototyped and shipped off to Central America in 2014, where today it is being put to good use. Over the course of a year, two functioning threshing machine prototypes were completely conceptualized, designed, and fabricated from the ground up by a team of students as part of professor Brian Thompson’s Humanitarian Engineering ME 491 class.

The threshing machine can be universally adapted to a bicycle, harnessing pedal power to process pigeon peas and other varieties of legumes. It is part of a larger humanitarian project to encourage farmers in the world’s fourth most malnourished country to expand into a new agriculture market and to introduce small-scale mechanization to increase the production of nutrient-dense legumes.

Converting pedal power into work, the MSU-designed equipment will decrease legume processing time in Guatemala by four times with a tested throughput of 100 pounds of seed per hour.

PHOTO: The Spartan Engineers above are (l to r): Tyler Jezowski, Adam Lyman, Adam Kluz, and Joe Aljajawi.

- Excerpted from “Mechanical Engineers Provide Economic Options for Guatemala,” ME@MSU magazine, Summer 2015

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