8/03/2006

I love the smell of welding smoke in the morning...

That o-zone, molten metal smell.....smells like.... progress!

One thing I’ve noticed, is that welding smoke smells the same in Canada as it does in Zambia, but then I don’t know why it would smell any different. It reminds me of the summer I spent working at an engineering firm in Hamilton and the smoke from the welding would waft into the office from the shop below.

I’ve been spending a lot of time overseeing and helping with the construction of the prototype Mongongo (or Manketti) Nut Cracking machine. I’ll give you a quick overview of the project.

Mongongo is a native nut to this region of Southern Africa. The nut, which is collected from the wild, as well as the oil, is high in vitamin E. The shell is very hard and quite difficult to crack. Elephants love to eat the Mongongo fruit, and the nuts pass through their digestive systems completely unscathed. Traditionally the nut was cracked by smashing it between two rocks. Now this is a very slow process, which is not suitable for commercial production of oil. It was necessary to develop a machine capable of cracking this very hard nut.

The focus for ASNAPP currently is developing the cracking technology, which will help to develop the industry of Mongongo oil production (which will give rural peoples to earn income from collecting wild nuts) which is where I come in as an Engineers without Borders volunteer. I’m using some of the “engineering skills” I have learned both at Centennial College studying Automation and Robotics and at Western studying Integrated Engineering to assist in the development of this machine and also using some of the ideas and concepts of sustainable development and appropriate technologies that I’ve learned in my time/training with EWB to try to ensure that this machine is created in manner that it will be able to be produced and used effectively considering the resources/abilities available in Zambia, and in the communities where it will eventually work. The latter being quite difficult, as I don’t know what resources or abilities are in the communities where this machine will be used. But hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll be finding out. I know, a little late in the process to be doing it, but better late than never.

1 comment:

amit said...

Hey Man,
A suppose a simple cold press technique would work fine for individual farmers.. as long as they’re healthy enough to rotate it. Do they use animals there to do the turning of the lever on larger scale coldpress? Is that nut available in large quantities easily? Is the cracking machine meant to help individuals or to produce the oil in commercial quantities only? Is electricity available in villages there? Would your cracking machine run on electricity?