IIT Kharagpur: researchers develop essential Betel Leaf oil extractor

Published by : stepincollege

IIT Kharagpur researchers develop essential oil extractor

Researchers at IIT Kharagpur have created essential oil extractors to reduce the cost of betel leaf production in India. Paan stories have been told for centuries in South and Southeast Asia, in songs, history and literature, faith and culture, and through social hierarchies. Although the use of Paan as a mouth freshener is being investigated by health agencies for possible carcinogenic effects, the key ingredient, Betel Leaf, is unaffected. Owing to the existence of antimicrobial and antioxidant-rich essential oil, it is considered beneficial in terms of digestion, sensory enhancement, and fresh air.

IIT Kharagpur produces betel leaf essential oil: The extraction of this essential oil from fresh and cured betel leaves is of great importance for industrial applications such as drugs, cosmetics, and chewable mouth fresheners, of which have a wide global demand. However, in the supply chain of betel leaves, the extraction processes have low economic viability and waste. Prof. Proshanta Guha and his research group from IIT Kharagpur's Agricultural and Food Engineering Department have developed a novel betel leaf oil extraction technology that can increase overall process performance. When compared to the existing process and apparatus in use, the extractor will save 44 percent of the time and 30 percent of the energy while increasing the oil yield by more than 16 percent.

Extraction of essential oils from betel leaves: “It is a distillation device with special modifications for recycling evaporated water that carries the vapors of essential oil from the distillation flask to the condensation unit,” Prof. Guha explained. It also has a special system that reduces the formation of emulsion, allowing for greater essential oil recovery.” The extractor was designed to be affordable to betel leaf farmers, with fabrication costs estimated at 10,000 and 20,000 dollars for 10L and 20L sizes, respectively. “This could be easily sustained by small farmers, and it would be adequate for regular or weekly processing of surplus leaves in any average-sized Boroj (0.02 ha).” One individual can extract about 10-20 ml of essential oil per day in three shifts using an extractor. Prof. Guha said, "The price of the oil varies from 30,000/- to about 1,00,000/- depending on the quality of the oil, with the Mitha variety being more expensive than the other varieties."

Betel leaves essential oil extraction equipment at IIT Kharagpur is reasonably priced: The researchers attempted to increase the performance of large rural installations by insulating the heat-radiating portions of the apparatus with inexpensive insulators. If the byproduct, i.e. de-oiled depleted leaves, is used as fuel, the amount of fuel required can be significantly reduced. Microwave heating-based equipment has also been designed to boost the efficiency of the extraction process and increase essential oil yield. The extraction process was completed in about 50 minutes in this attempt. As a result, time and resources were saved by around 76 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

India produces 9000 million betel leaves per year, making it the world's largest betel leaf manufacturer. However, achieving profitability remains a significant challenge, as at least 10% of the produce is wasted each year, and a substantial portion of it goes unsold or is sold at low prices during the glut season. This extractor equipment is supposed to reduce waste and divert surplus funds to various industrial goods. Prof. Guha verified that the equipment can also extract essential oil from other organic materials. It has been patented and licensed to over 20 government and private organizations, with more on the way.

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