Redesigning the Universal Nut Sheller

The peanut has a variety of different uses throughout the world, from cooking oil and sauces to being used in paint and soap. Every piece of the peanut plant can be used for something, but it takes an enormous amount of time and energy on the part of the farmer to make a living on the growing and selling of peanuts. The Full Belly Project, a non-profit organization headquartered in North Carolina, has worked to assist farmers worldwide by providing a Universal Nut Sheller to make the post-harvest processing of their product easier, safer and more efficient.

This summer Ming Leong (’09 Course 2), a Public Service Fellow, joined forces with Jock Brandis, inventor of the Universal Nut Sheller, to revisit and perhaps rework the current design of the nut sheller. The production and exportation of peanuts has the potential to help sustain a healthy lifestyle for rural farmers. With this in mind, Ming wanted to “develop a more portable and robust version of the sheller for use as part of a portable enterprise in Malawi.”

In North Carolina, she created new designs for the nut sheller: a computer model of her designs, a 3D model in plastic of the potential nut sheller, and finally a working model of the nut sheller in concrete. The test run of the new model showed promise in becoming a viable option for the future of the Universal Nut Sheller model. Ming also worked on assembly instructions of a nut sheller for people with limited English skills in various countries, which are currently in use. She also helped to develop a stronger, more sustainable concrete for the nut shellers because the concrete is often the first part of the machine to fail. Looking back on her experience with Jock and the Full Belly Project, Ming said that it “not only enriched my education as a mechanical engineer but it also broadened my perspectives on the world, shaping my aspirations after graduation.”

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