New clean method, machinery collects and chops pruned palm tree branches

A group of mechatronics engineering students won first place at the KOICA PASS Training Program organized by Rehoboth, a business incubator funded by Korea International Cooperation Agency for their outstanding achievement innovating a machine that collects and chops palm fronds.

Ahmad Shawahneh represented the group in the first stage of the competition in Korea where it qualified to participate in the second stage organized by Leaders Organization and funded by KOICA. The competition provides support and guidance to young entrepreneurs, especially newly graduated students, enabling them to create and develop innovative ideas and projects to serve the local and eventually national markets.

Ahmad Shawahneh, Ghadeer Nimer, Zaid Dalbah and Abdallah Karmi designed “Palm Fronds Collector and Chopper” as their joint graduation project, working under the supervision of Sima Rishmawi, their instructor in mechanical and mechatronics engineering, and guided by the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit in Birzeit University.

The project was inspired by the problems that arise when disposing of the huge amounts of clipped fronds that palm trees produce annually. According to the students’ research, one grown palm tree produces an average of 50 kg (5-10 fronds) each pruning season, and some farms can have up to 50,000 trees, which means up to 2,500 tons of waste per year . The students came up with an environmentally friendly approach that guarantees safe disposal of huge amounts of organic waste while making use of fronds rather than requiring considerable labor efforts to collect and burn them.

According to their supervisor Rishmawi, “The tractor-towed machine will consist of two stages: the collector that will be driven through the farm and the chopper. The chops will be temporarily stored in a container to be used later in various manufacturing processes such as silage and compost industries. It thus provides a convenient way to clean pruned farms, also providing the possibility to use gathered fronds as raw material for other industries.”