Engineering a Better World: Bike Corn-Sheller

Posted on October 3, 2008  Comments (5)

photo of bike maize sheller

More appropriate technology from MIT’s D-Lab.

D-Lab-developed device makes corn processing more efficient

Jodie Wu, an MIT senior in mechanical engineering, spent the summer traveling from village to village in Tanzania to introduce a new system for processing the corn: A simple attachment for a bicycle that makes it possible to remove the kernels quickly and efficiently using pedal power. The device makes processing up to 30 times faster and allows one person to complete the job alone in one day.

The basic concept for the maize-sheller was first developed in Guatemala by an NGO called MayaPedal, and then refined by Wu last semester as a class project in D-Lab: Design, a class taught by Department of Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Amy Smith. Now, thanks to Wu’s efforts, the technology is beginning to make its way around the world.

Thus, the owner of a bicycle, with a small extra investment, can travel from village to village to carry out a variety of useful tasks. A simple bike thereby becomes an ongoing source of income.

Wu refined the corn-sheller system, which was originally designed as a permanent installation that required a bicycle dedicated solely to that purpose, to make it an add-on, like Kiwia’s tools, that could be easily bolted onto an ordinary bike and removed easily.

Photo shows the prototype of the attachment. Engineering that makes a significant difference in people’s lives (especially those that need it the most) is even cooler than the latest high tech gizmos in my opinion. And those new gizmos are cool.

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5 Responses to “Engineering a Better World: Bike Corn-Sheller”

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