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27th May - Banana Waste Utilisation

We started our day by directly heading to the NIF lab. We decided to test whether any preprocessing of the stems would help in making the fibre extraction more easier. We got some more banana stems and cut them into around 1 foot long sections. We then boiled two of these stems, hoping that it would help make the fibres softer and thus easier to separate.

However, after half an hour of boiling and a further half an hour of waiting for the stems to cool, we realized that boiling the stems had little positive effect. In fact, it ended up making the stems saturated with water and reduced the structural strength of the stems. We werent able to hold the stems straight as they easily bent, and sprayed water everywhere when we tried to squeeze them or comb them with a serrated hack saw.

We also tried making a simple prototype of a metal mesh roller. We took a metal rod and wrapped it in a metal mesh net, which we welded onto the rod. After that we clamped it onto a lathe machine and tested it's effect on a banana stems. While it effectively removed the scrutcher, it did not separate the fibres. So we abandoned that idea.

After that we headed to the hall for a skype conversation with Professor Chintan Vaishnav. We explained our idea to him and told him that our design challenge was to design a low-cost fibre separator machine for banana stems. When he asked us what problems we were facing, we told him that we were facing difficulty in coming up with designs that were significantly different from the existing ones, and hence were getting stuck. Professor Chintan then explained to us about the concept of dominant design and then how we were trying to compete with the dominant design of banana fibre extractors. He said that we could try for a conceptual breakthrough in order to come up with a radically different design, or that we could consider playing with the scales of production. For example whether we were creating a solution for an individual farmer, or for a village or a cluster.

We then started ideating again. Sagar Sir, our mentor then gave us an idea of how we could change the shape of the rotating shaft to a square beam, but still achieve the same results that are achieved in existing raspador machines. The night concluded on this thought and we decided to pursue this thought the next day.

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