Learning Factory - Sponsors - Examples of Past Projects

Semester: Fall 2010

Sponsor: African Climate Exchange

Title: Ethiopian Injera making machine

Description: The purpose of this concept paper is to describe the purpose and functioning of a machine (“Machine M”) designed for mass commercial production of injera, for consumers in Ethiopia. Injera Background Injera is a spongy unleavened bread that is the staple of every meal in Ethiopia, a country with an ever-growing population of more than 80,000,000. Injera is typically served with meat or vegetable sauces (“wot”) and it is torn into bite sized pieces by hand and used to grab the wot. A traditional Ethiopian meal involves a gathering of people, who eat together from one large circular plate. The most desirable grain used to make injera is teff, a tiny grain that is rich in iron, protein, calcium and fiber. However, because teff is expensive and the demand is higher than the availability, other grains are often mixed in including wheat, barley, sorghum or corn. Making the injera batter requires the flour to be mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days. This fermentation is a delicate process and is temperature and humidity sensitive. Traditionally the batter prepared is cooked either on a specialized electric stove or a pan made of clay using fire. Commercial Production of Injera To date, only one machine has been successfully implemented for mass production of injera (hereafter referred to as “Machine Z”). This machine has a maximum capacity of producing 1000 injera per hour. It is used for commercial production of injera to serve the Ethiopian market of Washington DC. The design of Machine Z is complicated, with computer programming and multiple complex parts, numerous production stages (with stops) and requires two motors, three different heating elements and an air compressor to spread the raw batter and cool the cooked product. Maintaining the machine, therefore, is equally difficult, requiring the constant availability of skilled technicians. Furthermore, the complexity of the design makes it more likely to break down, resulting in loss of production and increased costs. Although it is not efficient, Machine Z can successfully operate in the US because it is the only such machine and because skilled labor for maintaining and repairing the machine is available. Machine M—Design Intent Machine M was designed to meet the needs of the market in Ethiopia. It was designed to be more efficient (producing 5400 injera per hour vs 1000) and more reliable, with fewer parts and less technology, resulting in reduced opportunities for breakdown and the ability to be maintained by the labor available in Ethiopia. Improved efficiency is achieved in several ways: 1) the throughput being 5x+ higher per hour than Machine Z, 2) one motor vs two motors, 3) continuously moving conveyor belt with no stops, 4) two vs three heating elements, 5) no air compressor, and 6) can be developed as a hybrid using renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and biofuel. Furthermore, and of perhaps greater consequence, the machine will reduce the use of household energy consumption, because 75% of the total energy consumed in Ethiopian households is for baking and cooking. 95% of total energy consumption in Ethiopia mostly comes through biomass. Historically, Ethiopia was one of the “forest” rich nations in the world. In just the past 50 years the land covered by forest has dropped from approximately 50% to less than 3%. In fact, the September 2005 National Geographic magazine stated that at the current rate of deforestation, Ethiopia could lose all its natural forest in 20 years. Machine M – Design Description The core component of Machine M is what differs the most from Machine Z. It can be described as follows: a cylindrical drum with holes drilled in a circular pattern through which the batter flows to “print” the injera onto a nonstick conveyor belt surface. The batter flows directly from a 100 gallon container of batter through a pipe which delivers it to a cylindrical tank inside the drum. The tank operates like a water sprinkler to distribute the batter in front of a rubber blade, which scrapes the batter through the patterned holes where it prints the 15” circular pattern (like a giant pancake). From there, the conveyor belt carries the circles of batter through the heating stage where it is cooked in two heating elements at two different temperatures to achieve the desired texture and consistency. Next, the conveyor belt carries the cooked injera through a cooling stage where it is exposed to an air blast to prepare it for packaging. Finally, the cooled injera is routed to three different stations where people will package the final product. Machine M – Partnership Opportunity Phase I of Machine M development, which consisted of creation of a mockup to demonstrate proof of concept, is now complete. Phase II will consist of the development of a functional prototype and requires technical expertise to develop the following: 1) The all new component – the spinning drum which “prints” the injera at the rate of 1.5 seconds per injera onto the conveyor belt. 2) The heating element to cook the injera to the desired temperature, texture and consistency. 3) The cooling element to cool the injera sufficiently for packaging. 4) An alternative energy scheme to operate the machine using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biofuel. High Speed Production Injera Machine Specs Machine - High speed production injera machine- 15” injera-Up to 5040 per hour Specifications - Designed for a manufacturing facility-Consistent high quality injera- A/C drive communication allows maintenance department to monitors loads-One A/C drive motor- Maintenance indicator notifies maintenance department when cleaning is required in order to maintain desired finished injera shape and thickness Belts- Nonstick conveyor belt for cooking and cooling-Standard conveyor belt for delivery to packaging area Electrical system - Modular design for easy maintenance-UL approved panel which separates disconnect switch-220V-50/60 Hz Production - Conveyor belt size – 18’ x 40”- Speed in excess of 5040 injera - Product size – 15” diameter, 1cm thick- One cylinder drum with six 15” patterns rotates at a speed of 14 cycles per minute Construction - Heavy duty stainless steel mainframe -All stainless steel exterior -Anti-flex support frames -Stainless steel guards, doors, hoods and electrical box -Mega cooling conveyor -Heavy duty casters -Stainless steel screws and hoppers -Industrial duty drive components -Nonstick conveyor belt height – 36” -Output conveyor belt height – 32” Oven - Four separate oven which heat at the following unique temperatures: 1) 360 C, 2) 290 C 3) 240 C and 4) 200 C-Capacity of 5040 per hour (15 seconds for each row of three pieces)-220V- 50/60 Hz-Gas heat (Liquefied Petroleum Gas – LPG) Note*** I will be arriving at State college on the 23rd of August and would love to negotaite with the donation that was requested below. We will be coming all the way from Africa and the cost of transportation and accomodation is very high and we would request your office to help us woking out the payment plan