Mechanical Engineering

Bolivian Combine Project

Students have the opportunity to significantly change the lives of people in poor, third-world countries. Mechanical engineering students have worked with Bolivian farmers to promote a greater harvest yield on a day-to-day basis.

Harvesting soybeans can be done in a variety of ways; however, the use of a self-propelled harvester is the most efficient and sought after method. Farmers in Bolivia aspire for a cheap, effective, one-step method for harvesting soybeans. Currently the bean plants are cut by hand and thrown into a stationary thresher. Students have developed a self-propelled, axial flow harvester that boosts production above the current harvest rate of one acre per day.

A self propelled, axial flow harvester can be easily fabricated and replicated for production when broken down into several key sections: cutting, conveying, threshing, separation, collection, and drive. This project focuses on designing and fabricating the threshing section of a harvester, as it is the most critical and difficult section to design. The remaining sections of the harvester can be designed and fabricated upon the perfection of the threshing system. The axial thresher system is incorporated to cut down on the engine power requirements, while boosting the efficiency of the crop throughput. All components designed use reasonably priced, dependable materials in attempt to cut down on weight in order to reduce power requirements. All harvester components are modeled in ProE/Wildfire and are fabricated in a similar manner as it would be made in Bolivia. Applying a finite element program ensures that the internal structure and other harvester components are designed to meet the demand of required loads and external forces. Designs will be submitted to a U.S. contact for the proposal and potential production of such a harvester in Bolivia. The ultimate goal of this project has been to provide the farmers of Bolivia with a prototype that can be easily replicated for production in their country.