Constantine Faller demos a sustainable alternative for his Athens-based business. To date, Faller has been running his coffee grinder through his pickup truck, but the Appalachian Human Power team aims to change that.
Designed by six senior mechanical engineering majors, the machine will employ a standard bicycle to turn a coffee grinder, smoothie blender and bench grinder at the Athens Farmers Market.
Athens Own is based out of the Broadwell Hill Learning Center in Stewart, Ohio, a 65-acre woodland farm and stewardship project.
Photographer: Aaron Krumheuer
Apr 20, 2011
Story by Aaron Krumheuer; Video by Mike Zorbas; Video produced and edited by Caleigh Bourgeois
Constantine Faller knew his truck battery wasn't cutting it. As eco-friendly business owner of Athens Own, he needed a more sustainable power source to grind coffee and blend smoothies at the Athens Farmers Market. Thanks to a team of OHIO student engineers, he'll soon have a pedal-powered alternative.
The machine was designed by senior mechanical engineering majors Brad Bundy, Ben Chovan, Zach Fetchu, Eddie Passarelli, Ryan Tedford and Will Zaylor. As their senior design project, it uses mechanical energy to power normally electric appliances. It employs a standard bicycle to turn Faller's coffee grinder, smoothie blender and bench grinder.
Athens Own was founded in 2001 when Faller saw the need for a community marketing and distribution system, a business to help connect local farmers and artisans with a customer base. Faller was trained as a chef in the late 1970s at the Culinary Institute of America. He admits he is not a great grower, but his mission is local food security.
"If you'd rather spend your time growing great tomatoes and great peaches, I can do our part to find you new markets, to get you better prices and distribute them, so you can spend your time doing what you know how to do," Faller said.
The business is based out of the Broadwell Hill Learning Center in Stewart, Ohio, a 65-acre woodland farm and stewardship project run by Cathy Jacobson. A completely solar-powered facility that is off the electrical grid, Broadwell hosts sustainability workshops and wilderness retreats.
Through Athens Own, Jacobson makes and sells vermicompost, which is a form of composting that utilizes earthworms. Jacobson and Faller practice "upcycling" which repurposes many of the materials that come through their business, like packaging compost in black coffee bags.
Every Saturday, Faller drives his truck from Stewart, Ohio, to the Athens Farmers Market, transporting products like the vermicompost, beeswax candles, pickled jalapeños, aged beef, smoked sausages, cheddar cheese and his own brand of coffee called Dawn Chorus. He has been running his coffee grinder through his pickup truck, but the Appalachian Human Power team aims to change that.
With its intuitive design, their machine can be adapted to power most appliances with a vertical shaft, and nearly any bicycle could be attached. A masterlink chain attaches to the bicycle's rear sprocket which, when pedaled, turns an input shaft on a custom made box. Within the box are four pulley ratios, which adjust speed and torque. From there, an output shaft from the box turns another pulley, which powers the appliance.
"I don't believe going green is a difficult thing; it's something we can all do each and every day," said Fetchu. "For example, our project is something that essentially anyone can build with somewhat handy work."
The machine could also be of help to other farmers or people in countries without access to electricity, Fetchu said. In Faller's case, the bike will outlast truck batteries, and he might even allow customers to pedal the grinder as a means to pay for their coffee.
"Somewhere in the soup of everybody's ideas is something better than any one of us can do individually," Faller said. "The senior design project, in the way that it's structured, facilitates that happening. We all have a piece of the solution, of where we need to get to, and the more we can come together and help grow that solution, the sooner we're going to get there and where we need to be."
The Appalachia Human Power team's invention will debut at the OHIO Student Research and Creative Activity Expo on May 13.
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