Students of Rowan University in New Jersey will be traveling to El Salvador and Senegal later this year to trial their non-electric, pedal-powered grain crusher with villagers. Their project goal is to produce a simple, labor-reducing device that can be used anywhere, anytime to process a range or grains.
For the past two years, engineering students Heather Klein, Josh Bonzella, and Kevin McGarvey have been working with Dr. Beena Sukumaran, a civil and environmental engineering professor, to develop a pedal-powered grain crusher at the Rowan Engineering Clinic.
The design, still in development, consists of an aluminum grain crusher that attaches onto the back of a bicycle, which is mounted on a stand. As a rider pedals, the back wheel turns a pulley that moves plates in the crusher to process the food from large to fine pieces suitable for cooking.
“This bike could be any bike. We made the grain crusher so many different size tires and wheel configurations will work with it. Someone could ride this from village to village and then connect to the community grinder and basically perform this task,” said student Josh Bonzella. In this way, it is also envisaged that the device could provide an income for those providing the service.
The group has noted that variations of such a grain crusher do exist, but they generally feature store-bought, hand-operated grinders that are very labor intensive. The hope is that once a practical design is finalized, it will be handed over to people in developing nations to produce themselves.