The Traditional Industry of Manufacturing Coconut Oil: Opportunities to increase productivity and enhance the product and process quality Abstract The main purpose of this study is to discuss how an existing traditional/indigenous industry of the village can be made more competitive business to suit present context of business by introducing feasible technologies to increase productivity and enhance the product and process quality with the use of the entrepreneurial skills and knowledge on engineering & business.
To accomplish this first of all it is necessary to identify such a traditional/indigenous industry of the village and study its indigenous technologies that are being used at the moment. There the traditional coconut oil industry has been selected and discussed its existing technology and ways to increase productivity and enhance the product and process quality. However there are many more things await which can be used to the development of the industry. Therefore if certain actions are taken on behalf of development of this industry the traditional coconut oil industry will act a major role among the money spinning industries of Sri Lanka.
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But today Sri Lanka has fallen into a very pathetic situation where we import coconut from India. It is due to the very poor attention we have had on it. However Coconut plantations are concentrated in the south of the Northwestern province and in the north of the Western province, named the “coconut triangle”, though it is grown in home gardens and in isolated plots in other parts of the country. A major portion of average annual coconut crop production is directly used for domestic consumption (for cooking purposes).
The rest is mainly used by two industries, namely DC and the rest for producing coconut oil. Coconut oil is the most consuming natural oil in Sri Lanka. Coconut oil is used for cooking, making Ayurveda medicine and for many more domestic and industrial applications. Since coconut oil acts a major role in Sri Lankan market. Studying about Sri Lankan traditional coconut oil industry and trying to develop it, is also important. Both supply and demand constraints have resulted in under capacity operation in most coconut oil factories and, hence, less profits.
The cost of the raw material, coconut, is responsible for a major portion of the total cost. Therefore, the price of coconut, which is dependent on many factors, such as the supply situation (which depends on weather conditions and seasons), the demand of the coconut oil industry and, to a lesser extent, the export price of DC, has a significant influence on the cost of production. For its survival and growth, the coconut oil industry has to implement cost cutting measures by improved process efficiencies, such as energy conservation and management, and adopting cleaner production technologies.
Only a very few studies are available on the energy use, pollution generation and other related issues of the Sri Lankan coconut oil manufacturing sector. The objective of this report is to describe briefly the production process and techniques, type of fuels used, energy use pattern and pollution generation. Options to improve the energy efficiency, productivity, enhance the product and process quality and minimize the negative environmental effects of coconut oil manufacturing industries in Sri Lanka are then discussed. 2. Raw materials and machines
In the coconut oil industry seasoned coconuts (coconut kernels) are used as the main raw material. In addition to that firewood is used as fuel to dry coconut kernels. A burner which dries coconut by hot air uses this firewood. Additionally a cutting machine employs to shred coconut kernels and an oil mill employs to grind and press shredded and dried coconut kernels to get coconut oil. 1. Tray type dryer Tray dryers are industrial devices using heat to dry a large amount of flat trays at one time. The processed trays contain shredded coconut kernels.
The dryer uses warm, dry air forced through blowers in a sealed area. Tray dryers are essentially large wooden cabinets. Inside the cabinet notches hold trays in place while they dry. Once loaded with trays, the cabinet doors close and forced hot air does the drying. The simple design of tray dryer makes it easy to operate. 2. Oil mill In the oil mill there is a cone shaped container where shredded and dried coconut kernels are comprised. Two metal tubes where one goes through the other are connected to the bottom of this container.
The inner tube rotates and shredded coconut kernels flows between the outer and inner tubes where the gap between these two tubes can be adjusted which means the pressure applies on shredded coconut kernel can be adjusted. There are screw cuts on the body of inner tube which make it possible to flow shredded coconut kernels in a certain direction. The outer tube contains two holes at the bottom and the top of the remote end of it, from the container. The bottom hole is covered with a crannied filter which is connected to another small tube which carries out coconut oil from the oil mill.
The upper hole provides a way to oil cake to come out from the oil mill. 3. Process and techniques The process of manufacturing coconut oil begins with removing the husks of seasoned coconuts manually. Then it needs to remove the shells and to pair and split manually. At the next stage coconut kernels are washed manually. Then with the above mentioned cutting machine coconut kernels are shredded. After that these shredded coconut kernels are dried in a tray type drier by using hot air provides from a burner which burns firewood.
When these shredded coconut kernels are dried into a satisfactory amount they are grinded and pressed with a certain amount of pressure which is provided by the oil mill and it supplies filtered coconut oil as the output. There oil cake is produced as a byproduct. This byproduct is used again in the oil mill and it is subjected to a higher pressure to get oil. Like this same process continues for two, three times with same oil cake. Then the oil produced by the oil mill is collected in barrels. These oil barrels are released to the market. 4. Losses of energy
The high thermal energy consumption in drying stage is due to the inefficiencies and large thermal energy losses. And these energy losses are mainly due to wastage of thermal energy to the environment as the wooden cabinets are not fully sealed. In the same time as the tray type dryer does not have sensors to indicate when shredded coconut kernels are completely dried, blowers can continue heating the cabinet even after these shredded coconut kernels have completely dried. The tray type drier consumes more energy than advanced continuous dryers and takes a longer drying time.
Incomplete combustion of firewood and low efficiency of burners in wood fired burners also reduce the overall efficiency of the whole system. 5. Related environmental pollution Two types of waste, liquid and solid, are generated, apart from the gases produced during the combustion process of fuel. The main waste is the coconut water (sap), which is mixed with normal washing water and discharged, with a little treatment, to neighboring lands and water bodies, causing severe environmental damages to vegetation, ground water resources and water bodies.
The only treatment done is the removal of oil sludge after allowing the wastewater to be retained in open pits for some time. This sludge is sold as a lubricant to the tile industry. In this kind of traditional coconut oil manufacturing industries, where firewood is used to generate hot air, wood ash is a waste product. These ash stocks are dumped on the industry premises itself. The industry is saddled with a local environmental problem due to the large quantities of wastewater that have to be discharged. Wastewater has high concentrations of biodegradable compounds, including carbohydrates, oil and grease.
A traditional factory usually discharges wastewater, consisting of both coconut sap and wash water. At the time the industry was set up pollution was not a major concern, and the industry enjoyed the freedom to discharge wastewater without being resisted either by neighboring dwellers or by environmental authorities. With the increase of settlements near factories and also with the imposition of discharge standards, the industry is forced to find a lasting solution. 1. Greenhouse gases and other emissions The gaseous emissions of the coconut oil industry due to the combustion of firewood have been estimated as: CO2, CO, SO2, NO2.
On the other hand, though the coconut shell is a solid waste in the process of coconut oil manufacturing, as it is either sold to charcoal manufacturers or burned within the premises to make charcoal. Also the role of coconut shells sums up with an environmental pollution. 6. Improving energy efficiency, productivity, product quality and environmental friendliness Though the industry is economically important, it has to struggle for its survival due to supply and demand constraints, process deficiencies and inefficiencies arising from technology obsolescence, escalating input costs and, more importantly, the environmental challenges.
Some of them indeed are beyond the control of the industry. Some options available to the industry are described below: 1. Energy efficiency options Energy efficiency can be improved by adopting better operational and housekeeping practices and using energy efficiency dryers. In traditional mills, Several sensors which deliver information about the moisture level inside the dryer cabinet can be employed to make sure that the shredded coconut kernels are not unnecessarily heated. Better operation and maintenance of existing equipment, such as improvement in the performance of tray type dryer by reducing its idling time.
Operating at rated capacity and controlling the quantity and temperature of the supplied air and residence time can reduce energy use. Insulation of dryer and reduction in loading/unloading time of coconut meat can help achieving further energy savings. Waste heat recovery can be another important means to reuse heat fuel consumption is possible by installation of suitable waste heat recovery systems. An important source of waste heat recovery is dryer flue gas. The recovered heat can be employed in the same path to improve the efficiency.
Making sure that the tray dryer cabinet is fully sealed by coating it with clay is another aspect to recover heat wastage. To avoid contamination, the flue gas should not come into direct contact with the coconut meat. In order to accomplish this purpose several filters can be used to filter the flue gas. Another way of energy saving is possible by changing from the traditional tray type dryer to a fluidized bed dryer. This would also result in the reduction of CO2 and CO emission by a considerable amount. 2. Use of coconut shells in industry A large number of coconut shells are made available as a byproduct of the coconut oil industry.
Most of them are burned in open pits to produce charcoal for the activated carbon industry. This process emits a lot of harmful gases, creating severe environmental problems. If efficient carbonization of coconut shells were adopted, the waste heat of the process could be used for generating hot air, and the environmental hazard could be eliminated. This is an ideal option for an traditional coconut oil industry that need to be modernized, and though the cost of the coconut shell carbonization system is relatively much higher this will reduce the fuel consumption of the burner and, at the same time, produce charcoal out of coconut shells.
There is also further development and improvements. The improvements could be done in all three stages, which consist of shell burning, waste heat recovery and using the heat in dryers. 3. Uses of other byproducts The oil cake obtained as a byproduct will find a ready market as a cattle feed and in the manufacture of mixed cattle feeds or as a raw material for the extraction of remaining oil by solvent extraction method. Therefore through oil cake an extra profit can be gained easily. 4. Wastewater treatment
A pilot wastewater treatment plant can be built in near the traditional coconut oil manufacturing factory using an anaerobic digestion system. This had been earlier developed and tested in the laboratory by the National Engineering Research and Development Centre (NERD). It is expected that the BOD and COD levels of the wastewater after treatment will be reduced to acceptable limits, and the biogas generated will find useful applications (to supplement dryer fuel, lighting, water boiling etc. ) within the factory.
However, in order to reduce the initial investment of the treatment plants the wastewater generated needs to be reduced by separating the coconut sap from the wash water. Positive results of this plant will benefit not only the coconut oil industry in overcoming their pollution problems but also the people living in the vicinity of traditional coconut oil manufacturing factory who have been suffering from the environmental degradation. 5. Awaiting applications for sap No organized attempts have been made to identify new applications for coconut sap so that its value can be upgraded instead of trying to treat it s a waste product. Therefore, it is suggested to explore the possibility of converting the liquid effluent to a consumable product. The sap contains 1. 5% fat and very valuable minerals, such as iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and small quantities of phosphorous. There is a considerable market for coconut water based products, for example, in Taiwan, and the technology is available in the Philippines, Thailand and China. Promotion of technology transfer through joint ventures and local research and development works could, thus, reduce waste and increase profits. 7. Conclusion and Recommendations
Beyond doubt, the traditional coconut oil industry is one of the nationally important indigenous industries of Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to contribute to the sustainability of the industry. Though coconut oil industry production is not very energy intensive, the energy use influences the overall efficiency of the coconut oil industry operation and the cost of production. For the Sri Lankan coconut oil industry sector to be competitive in the global market, measures to reduce energy consumption would help to reduce the cost of production and generation of pollutants.
On the part of the industry, all measures should be taken to improve the process efficiencies by acquiring new technologies and through better energy management practices in order to enhance the overall productivity of the operation. Implementation of energy saving devices and better energy management may lead to a reduction of CO2 emission and also reduce the cost of environmental cleanup. Research and development organizations should work with the industry to identify technology gaps and to suggest solutions.
The government also has to play a key role in funding the research and development activities, as the industry alone may not be able to bear the full cost due to the high risk of such activities. Once a technology is identified or developed and if it is economically feasible, industry should come forward to embrace such technologies. In the case of environmental protection technologies, industry should even be prepared to forego some of its profits as a responsible stratum of the society. In this process, the government could create a conducive and enabling environment by utting in place the right policies. Recognition of the industry for its economic contribution and eliminating policy biases, if any, against the industry are also vital for its sustainability. 8. References 1) Coconut Kernel Products: Coconut Oil – The Coconut Development Authority (CDA) of Sri Lanka 2) Types of Tray Dryer by Benjamin Arie, eHow Contributor 3) Desiccated coconut industry of Sri Lanka by S. Kumar, G. Senanayake, C. Visvanathan and B. Basu 4) Anaerobic wastewater treatment: Anaerobic wastewater treatment for industrial and domestic wastewater by Wim Wiegant PhD and Nico Groeneveld MSc ) Water Quality Indicators: BOD and COD by Milton Beychok 6) Waste heat from coconut shell carbonization – DFID Project 6087, co-funded with the Common Fund for Commodities 9. Appendix ? BOD and COD – Both the BOD and COD tests are a measure of the relative oxygen-depletion effect of a waste contaminant. Both have been widely adopted as a measure of pollution effect. The BOD test measures the oxygen demand of biodegradable pollutants whereas the COD test measures the oxygen demand of bio gradable pollutants plus the oxygen demand of non-biodegradable oxidizable pollutants. Anaerobic digestion system of wastewater treatment – Anaerobic wastewater treatment differs from conventional aerobic treatment in that no aeration is applied. The absence of oxygen leads to controlled anaerobic conversions of organic pollutants to carbon dioxide and methane, the latter of which can be utilized as energy source. The main advantages of anaerobic treatment are the very high loading rates that can be applied (10 to 20 times as high as in conventional activated sludge treatment) and the very low operating costs.
Anaerobic treatment often is very cost-effective in reducing discharge levies combined with the production of reusable energy in the form of biogas. ? Waste heat recovery unit (WHU) – The application of a coconut shell carbonization with waste heat recovery unit was developed to virtually eliminate the evolution of noxious smoke evolved during the charcoal-making operation and simultaneously enable the heat generated during the process – heat normally lost to the surroundings – to be used in the production of copra (dried coconut kernels).