Saturday, April 30, 2011

Redesign in Progress

The SLAB meeting went really well! We receive some very positive feedback and some great suggestions for our future plans. Furthermore, our project has been officially approved by UT's International Office. So now we're rolling out travel plans as we work on our project.

Concerning our project, Alex B. and Sam are working on testing briquettes and analyzing their burn characteristics, while Alex K., Simon and Marc are beginning to work on the press redesign. We are very happy with the press we've built, but we want to make sure only the best design will be implemented in Ghana!

Here's a video showing how our press churns out briquettes:

We also plan on making numerous drafts using SolidWorks CAD software and printing out more 3D models before we built our improvements. Here's an example:

Using SolidWorks, we can visualize any changes we make, along with motional and stress analyses. We're very excited to see what we come up with, and we'll have more updates later.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More Briquettes, More Experience

Today is our Service Learning Advisory Board presentation regarding our final approval for travel.  If all goes as planned, we will be green-lighted for travel by the day's end!

We've been pumping out a lot of briquettes lately.  We've learned a great deal about the production process, and have made several refinements to our equipment.  A baseline production rate was established at about one briquette per minute, and after a few process refinements, we were able to increase this rate by ten percent after working on it for only one day!  We look forward to continuous process improvement and refining our equipment for improved briquette production.
For a future outlook, we are looking towards carbonizing the briquettes. There is one prototype in the picture above, though many more will need to be produced for any kind of relevant results.  Shatter tests have been performed on some controlled parameter briquettes, and we are sorting through the data now.  Soon we will be conducting some combustion analysis tests, monitoring burn time and peak heat output.  More updates to follow soon!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Press built, molds built, briquettes!

The press has been refined a bit, several mold designs built, and a few preliminary briquettes have been pressed.  Overall, it's been a busy and successful week.  Below you can see two molds and accompanying plungers.  

Here are some briquettes laid out to dry.  We experimented with a few parameters just to get to a reasonable size, shape, and consistency.  We have a more rigorous experimental procedure developed, but were too excited to have the molds done not to produce a few.

While we were on a roll, we couldn't resist burning some.  Two days in the sun left these briquettes were plenty dry to burn.  The lit easily with newspaper and burned really well.  The densest ones flamed for a bit, then glowed red-hot for a while, very similar to charcoal.  Promising results!