Manual Press to Fabricate Briquettes from Waste Sawdust

Photo of Anthony Soenen, Joseph Lawlor, Christopher Huff Students: Anthony Soenen, Joseph Lawlor, Christopher Huff

Sponsor: The University of Texas at Austin

Date: Spring 2010

Requirements:
The briquette press must produce at least three briquettes at a time using interchangeable and removable dies so different briquette shapes can be studied. A locking mechanism must be provided in the die design so the effects of long term briquette compression can be studied. The press must use interchangeable parts to allow modification and parts replacement in the laboratory. A sensor must be provided to report the output force of the press to determine the force required for optimal briquette manufacturing. Additionally, the press must have a fluid collection system to collect the excess fluid expelled during briquette production. The press should be manually operated by a single person and provide an output force up to 2000 pounds while weighing no more than 40 pounds.

Problem:
Villagers in Patriensa, Ghana spend large portions of each day cooking on small cook stoves and rely on wood for their main source of cooking fuel. Villagers are currently cutting down trees in a nearby forest and causing significant deforestation to obtain the wood required for their cooking needs. Sawdust is available in large quantities as a waste product from the local sawmill and has been suggested as a possible alternative source of fuel. The goal of this project is to design and produce a manually operated press that can be used in research to identify an optimal sawdust briquette design for implementation in Ghana.

Solution:
The project solution is a briquette press that utilizes a screw mechanism to compress sawdust mixtures in briquette die stacks. The press frame is constructed of aluminum due to its low weight and high strength. The frame supports are extruded square tubes that are joined together with brackets and bolts. This design simplifies the assembly process while also minimizing material and fabrication costs. The screw mechanism consists of an acme threaded screw and a replaceable acme threaded nut which is secured in the aluminum frame. The briquette dies are machined out of aluminum stock and can be locked together after compression with screws that pass through the perimeter of each die. A drainage solution consisting of a retaining wall is included in the frame to collect excess material. A force gauge is implemented in the design to assist in recording the effects of different compressive forces on the briquettes.

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