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Re: Sharing some *Good News* and requesting your thoughts and feedback

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From: jimgagne
Date: May 19th 2007, 22:18 EST
Subject: Re: Sharing some *Good News* and requesting your thoughts and feedback

*Clearing Vegitation without Burning*

In many locations around the world, people clear fields for planting by burning the scrub away. While this method requires less labor, it also leads to a decrease in air quality and an increase in green house gases. Tractors are expensive and in many mountainous communities, they would not even be able to reach the fields. Often fields are on a 20-45 degree angle.

Aside from thrashing, perhaps there is a less expensive easier way of clearing fields of their vegetation. Electricity or other fuels are often expensive and limited in these areas. The cost would need to be low (under $200), although perhaps multiple farmers could pull their funds to purchase one for the area. This device would clear the fields and allow replanting without the biohazard of burning the fields.

*Inexpensive Portable Incubator*

There are several water quality testing kits available to traveling project teams, although a major obstacle to obtaining highly accurate results is the absence of an inexpensive, portable incubator. There would be a high demand for such a product because of the need to supply quantitative information on water quality for engineering analysis. If project teams are able to provide this accurate reporting, it will serve to enhance the effectiveness of the water quality metric.

*Drying Mechanism for Rice*

In areas where many communities grow rice, such as those in tropical Asia, most farmers dry the rice after harvesting it on "multi-purpose drying pavement". In most cases, this is the local road. With frequent rains, the farmers must move the rice quickly and often. If the rain continues, the rice is lost, not to mention the rice lost from vehicles driving over it. The percentage of the crop lost could be as high as 10%. This problem has been identified by the Philippines Ministry of Agriculture. The local agricultural engineer has a prototype dryer the farmers can use to dry crops even when it rains. It is quite interesting, the primary source of energy being the rice hulls and a small diesel engine to drive the fan. The dryer needs improvements, which could be done by members of Engineers Without Borders.

The area is safe, there are numerous contacts already established, and there is a Peace Corp volunteer in the area for the next two years that could help with the project. Possible donations have begun to be solicited. This project has huge payback potential for this region and any other tropical region with a drying problem.

*Machine to remove individual grains from a seed stalk*

Millet grinders are very common in the developing world. These are fairly simple and durable machines for grinding millet, sorghum, peanuts, corn, etc. into flours of various consistencies. The development advantage is these grinders reduce the time and effort women must expend in producing the same product by hand.

However, one step in this process that is very time consuming and labor intensive, and which the grinder does not solve, is removing individual grains from a seed stalk. Seed stalks are generally about 2 feet long and an inch or so in diameter. These seed stalks (which are stored for sometimes more than 12 months in adobe graineries) are threshed by hand using a mortar and pestle or else by spreading the stalks over a hardpan surface and beating repeatedly with sticks. Either approach is hard on the body, labor intensive, and time-consuming.

*Natural cooling methods*

Research on natural cooling methods used traditionally in desert and tropical climates (Africa, SE Asia) are not used on many “modern” buildings of western design, and the buildings become uninhabitable during summer.

Your post also mentions Heat Powered LED Lighting, Testing equipment for improved stove design, and Cold weather composting toilet design. Those seem a little more technical to me and less susceptible to input from all sorts of people. "Natural cooling methods" is a good example of the opposite: what techniques have people come up with in other settings/cultures? This is something you might know even if you weren't an engineer.

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