Plant Oil Production

When electricity is scarce, pedal powered machines can make work much more efficient.

We take for granted the machines that process our food and produce the goods we purchase for daily living. In Burundi and Haiti though, virtually everything has to be done without machinery – planting, harvesting, processing, transporting. These manual tasks are physically hard on the body and take much longer to do without machines. Often these manual tasks take so long that the income produced barely covers the costs to make the products. Lacking the income to purchase machines or the education to build them, people are left with few options to make these processes more efficient.

In 2011, Amilio Aviles, SHAPE International adviser, traveled to Costa Rica to teach the locals how to build a sheller and oil extractor. The locals used this pedal powered machine to shell and crush jatropha. The multiplying effect of this machine reduced the labor to shell the harvest from hours to minutes. In 2012, Amilio traveled to Burundi to teach the locals how to build similar pedal powered machines. His efforts are making a significant difference in these developing countries.

Jatropha oil extractor (top) and shell separator (bottom)


The top photo on the right shows the oil extractor. This is the Piteba oil extractor modified to fit on the bicycle, using the chain to drive the expeller instead of a hand crank. This early prototype uses a plastic bottle for a funnel, but the goal is to develop a more efficient setup where a large amount of seed can be fed into the extractor and oil can be collected in a large container.

The bottom photo shows a separator that was developed to separate the Jatropha shells from the seeds. The process of shelling and separating the seed is the most time consuming, taking up to an hour for a single bag of Jatropha seed.

Our goal is to continue refining this machine to make it more efficient and to reduce the cost of materials to make it accessible to more farmers in Burundi and Haiti.

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