MIT's D-lab developed a method to turn agricultural wastes into affordable smokeless fuels, such as sugarcane charcoal and corn cob charcoal. This agricultural waste charcoal has the potential to combat deforestation and reduce the dangerous effects of indoor cooking fires. One limiting factor in the adoption of this technology is the need for a charcoal crusher. Burning carbonized cobs produces less smoke than regular biomass fuels, but the carbonized cobs produce a hazardous level of carbon monoxide. D-lab developed a device to turn charcoal powder into a dense compact briquette that burns safely, but it is difficult to crush the carbonized cobs into a charcoal powder without inhaling dangerous amounts of charcoal dust. A team during the IDDS 2008 built a charcoal crushing device which addresses the gap in this alternative fuel process.
The device limits the user's exposure to the charcoal dust that is harmful when inhaled. Charcoal dust consists of super fine particles of charcoal that are thrown into the air when the carbonized cobs are being crushed or when the charcoal powder is being transported or agitated. To minimize transfer of the charcoal powder from one receptacle to another, the device deposits charcoal powder directly into the container where it is mixed with a wet binder. After the user deposits carbonized cobs into the device's hopper, the lid prevents the charcoal dust from escaping. Depending on the materials available, the grating cylinder can be made from expanded steel tack welded to a steel pipe, or cement poured into a mold made from a PCV pipe.
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