Biking for Bread: Students Build Pedal-Powered Grain Crusher
As the first step in what they hope will eventually become an entrepreneurial version of the successful Doctors Without Borders and Engineers Without Borders models, Beena Sukumaran, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rowan University, and several students have developed a pedal-powered grain crusher. Their aim in building the simple add-on was to create an effective device for people in developing countries to use to process a variety of grains on the cheap. Moreover, it could also help generate income for individuals traveling from village to village.
Still in the development stage, the aluminum grain crusher attaches to any bike mounted on a stand; when a rider begins to pedal, the back wheel turns a pulley that moves plates in the crusher that process the grains from large pieces into smaller ones suitable for cooking. Student teams traveling to El Salvador and Senegal later this year will see whether the grain crusher could prove beneficial to local villagers. Sukumaran estimates the cost for the crusher, when finalized, to be under $200; she and her students are now considering developing a mechanical soil tiller add-on.
As one of many simple, easy-to-use devices with broad applications for the developing world we've covered in the past, this grain crusher prototype has great promise; assuming the modest price point sticks - and, with time, decreases further - it could become an effective tool for combating poverty and hunger in many countries.