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Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) is a national network made up mostly of student chapters (~35 as of Jan 2014). ESW chapters work on technical design projects, generally on campus or in the local communities. Starting in Jan of 2014, groups associated with ESW are taking on specific aspects of the GVCS.

Specific project pages

ESW Partnership Links

Process Notes

The steps for establishing a working project with - ESW - RIT Chapter -were:

  • Initial conversation with ESW leadership regarding OSE - ESW collaboration - November
  • ESW leadership discussed ESW Chapter-OSE collaboration with OSE, including the lead of the RIT chapter - Mid January
  • Projects were narrowed down to Pelletizer and Strawboard Machine with RIT Chapter lead in a conference call that included ESW leadership
  • Roster of students was provided by ESW RIT chapter - end of January
  • Introductory meeting is planned for first week in Feb.


RIT Roster


Wed Feb 12, 2014

ESW RIT Chapter - Pelletizer Group - see specific parts for universal rotor at Mike_Hill_6_in_60_Metal_Order#Parts

Thu Feb 6, 2014

Hi Marcin,

I would like to electronically introduce you to a faculty member here at RIT in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, Dr. Marcos Esterman. Marcos is currently teaching a graduate level Engineering of Systems course in which they have turned to the Open Source Ecology GVCS for project ideas. They have decided to focus on the Microtractor. The class will also be directly collaborating with a university in Columbia, who will be simultaneously working on the same project. He is taking a very interesting approach with this course and I feel that the outcomes will be quite valuable.

I spoke with Marcos today about this and told him I would introduce the two of you. I think you will be quite interested in his methodology and expected outcomes for the project. Expect a followup email from Marcos with more details regarding the nature of the project.

I am sure that you are quite busy, but I strongly feel that your (at least limited) involvement with this project will prove mutually beneficial. Perhaps you may even be able to offer some inspirational words to the students working on the project, which could help yield improved results.

Best wishes, Kevin

Wed Feb 5, 2014

Next steps - recruit feedback from mechanical engineering advisors as part of the process. Discuss ways of obtaining feedback - Facebook, ESW Facebook, professors, recruiting of stakeholders, etc.

  • Please select a standard pipe section for the pelletizer chamber, if available. Mild steel.


  • Biweekly meeting. Next: Research straw material. Sketchup rough drawing by next meeting - Feb 17 - post design to FB.
  • Next meeting - 2 weeks from now, Feb 12, 7 PM EST, and every 2 weeks from there.
  • How to edit wiki - Instructions
  • See how to use documentation platform - Dozuki
  • Start a log at Pelletizer_Log
  • Review
  • ESW RIT - Facebook
  • Team pictures
  • Development Board - Pelletizer Development Board

Pelletizer Requirements

  • Use se existing design of Universal Rotor - as in Modular Wheel Units. The source file for the frame is in Google Warehouse at the top of the page.
  • The entire Universal Rotor can also be pulled from our Trencher - Chris_Reinhart_Log_Archive#Trencher_Design_Review_Complete - which also shows how the universal rotor attaches to another frame.
  • Assume that the Pelletizer, once complete, attaches to 2 tubes, which are 4x4 inch square tubes with 1/4" wall
  • Assume that we start with the roller die set - plate and dumbell - which are bought off the shelf
  • Assume that we will cut the chamber from 1/2" steel plate - and build it as a weldment, not a casting - so it's highly replicable via digital fabrication
  • Attach shaft of Universal Rotor directly to the die, no geardown required
  • Assume 1-7/8" shaft on the Universal Rotor
  • Pictures of Pelletizer that we can base our design upon are found at
  • Design uses the roller die set as shown at bottom of Pelletizer - Pelletizer/Research_Development
  • An adjustment needs to be present for the height of the roller above the flat die - this adjusts pressure.
  • Dimensions of die set - see last 5 pictures in Pelletizer Pictures.
  • Components to design: (1) start with existing universal rotor (2) stand or attachment for the rotor - (3) coupling of shaft to the dies via a coupler that goes to a keyed shaft through the disk part of the die set (4) pelletizing chamber with exit hole (5) conical structure for ejecting pellets. (6) hopper for loading.

Mon Feb 3, 2014

Process: recruit feedback from mechanical engineering advisors as part of the process. Discuss ways of obtaining feedback - Facebook, ESW Facebook, professors, recruiting of stakeholders, etc.


  • Biweekly meeting. Next: Research straw material. Sketchup rough drawing by next meeting - Feb 17 - post design to FB.
  • Ask Dr. Stevens to be a technical reviewer
  • How to edit wiki - Instructions
  • See how to use documentation platform - Dozuki
  • Start a log at Strawboard_Log
  • Review
  • ESW RIT - Facebook
  • Team pictures
  • Development Board - [1]

Strawboard Machine Requirements

Phase 1

  • Design is such that it can be modified readily to the continuous version
  • Fed with chopped straw (1-2" pieces), manually though an elongated hopper
  • Mold size for the heating/compression chamber is adjustable
  • Piston creates pressure and feeds straw into chamber
  • Piston foot size is adjustable to match heating/compression chamber aperture
  • Heating elements are applied to flat plates in adjustable chamber
  • Batch system - one end of the compression chamber
  • Arduino temperature regulator controls temperature
  • Temperature display shows temperature
  • Pressure sensor shows pressure
  • Uses Warehouse 4" square tubing for frame
  • Length of frame is 8' long, but first prototype involves 4' length of heating area.
  • Heating area is modular in 4' sections.
  • Heating elements are insulated from the outside tom minimize heat loss
  • Dual side heating
  • 1/2" plate is used to form the chamber
  • Screw-down mechanism adjusts size of chamber
  • Board prototype chamber is scalable in units of 4'
  • 2 hydraulic cylinders are used on the press foot
  • Press foot is made from layered-up 1/2" steel
  • Development Boards are used for each module
  • We begin with Concept Design - Modules Definition - Interface Design, then all teams start working
  • End side of strawboard machine is plugged to allow pressure buildup.
  • Use a 4" cylinder - from [2]
  • 0-2000 psi - system pressure
  • Power would be a Power Cube 27 hp gas engine - in the form of hydraulic flow
  • 0-14 gallons per minute
  • Hydraulic Power Output from Power Cube feeds a hydraulic valve - [3]
  • Heating element takes heat up to 240F

Design goals -

Phase 2

  • Addition of straw chopper for automatic chopping and feeding
  • Continuous version - end side is opened for continuous throughput
  • Pressure buildup is achieved by friction against compression chamber
  • Chamber length is extended to build up pressure as needed, while retaining the same length of the heating chamber

Google Drawing - Conceptual Design


Thu Jan 30, 2014

Yes this all sounds good to me. For Monday's meeting, I will be creating the Google Hangout and I will be inviting you and one person from the Strawboard team (they will all be in the same room together working off one machine, I will be elsewhere). Wednesday I will be on campus and myself and the pelletizer/universal rotor team will all be together in the same room. I will create the session and invite you. I'm new too Google Hangout so hopefully everything goes smoothly.

For the pelletizer/universal rotor team, we will have to work a little harder to more clearly define the scope of the project. As of our last meeting the team thinks the project is more along the lines of developing a universal quick attachment system for the universal rotor, less designing the pelletizer. I was still a little cloudy in regards to your exact intentions for this particular team, so that's where their confusion will have come from. I am sure we will get this all cleared up on Wednesday.

Just to recap - Strawboard team on Monday and Universal rotor/pelletizer team on Wednesday.

January 22, 2014

Thanks for a good meeting.

For further motivation on Strawboard - I talked to my friend Alastair Parvin, founder of Wikihouse about strawboard - and we are excited about strawboard being the material for his CNC-cut houses - see his TED Talk -

For further motivation to sudents:

1. If the design is successful, OSE will build the machines during the summer of 2014 - where we will have a summer of Extreme Design/Builds. The summer session will include machines, microhouse builds, and some agriculture activity - centered around the application of our machines to these areas.

2. Phase 1 of Strawboard Machine would be a batch machine, say 3"x1' wide, for producing, say a 4' board. Then we could move to a coninuous process in Phase 1.

3. It would be good to design the Phase 1 Strawboard machine by the summer.

4. The goal is complete design and fabrication instructions.

5. We prefer Google Sketchup as the CAD platform, because everyone has access to it.

6. If the design is complete and if OSE approves the final fabrication procedure, OSE could invite ESW team members for the actual build in the summer. The build should take under a week if we follow OSE Extreme Design principles of modular design - where many of the parts can be built in parallel. Thus, we need to design with this in mind - this is something I can go over with the team.