Rowan U. launches African peanut shell project
GLASSBORO, N.J. - March 22, 2011 (WPVI) -- When you think about solving poverty problems, do you automatically think of sending money somewhere, or maybe a government program?
Students in Rowan University's Engineering Innovators without Borders program tried a different approach...hands-on, time-consuming, but ultimately, a better way.
The crop is so important to that nation's economy that you see mountains of peanut shells everywhere...the waste of the farming process.
Meanwhile, Gambians often cut down trees, a precious natural resource to burn in stoves.
The Rowan students challenged themselves to find a way to take today's "trash"...peanut shells...and turn them into a practical cooking fuel.
Back on campus in Glassboro, New Jersey, they decided against developing an industrial process, which might be efficient but could also be costly.
Instead, they set out to develop something an individual family could own and operate, taking peanutshells from a site near home and processing them into cooking fuel.
The students ended up crushing the shells and combining them with water.
They built a simple press from a few pieces of wood and some PVC pipe.
The result is a machine which compresses the shells into briquettes much like you might use in a backyard grill.
Once the briquettes dry, they can be used as fuel, burning easily with just a little help from kindling.
They produce a fire quite hot, yet not so much that the energy is wasted.
Testing is not yet complete, but their professors expect that the students' idea can be on the ground in The Gambia in a year or two.
new jersey, college, farming, food, africa, rowan university, energy, local/state
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