Optimizing the Performance of a Manually Operated Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) Decorticator
Editors: 

A. N. Gitau1*, P. Mboya1, B. N. K. Njoroge2, M. Mburu3
1Department of Environmental and Biosystems Engineering, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
2Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
3Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
Email: *gitauan@yahoo.co.uk, ayub.gitau@uonbi.ac.ke

Shelling of groundnut pods using manual decorticators in Kenya is characterized by high kernel breakages and low shelling efficiencies. As a result, farmers get low income due to low cost of broken kernels and a lot of time is lost in the tedious shelling operation. To overcome this problem, pertinent parameters that influence shelling efficiency of manually operated groundnut decorticators were identified. Two manually operated decorticators were tested and modifications done on one of the decorticators to optimize its technical performance. Results of machine performance tests showed that for WBS (Wooden beater sheller) at a feed rate of 30 kg/hr and 22.6 mm clearance, shelling efficiency increased with decrease in moisture content for all the groundnut varieties. The highest shelling efficiency was 55.3% for ICGV 99568, 39.2% for ICRISAT Groundnut Variety (ICGV) 90704 and 29% for ICGV 12991 at moisture content of 5.92% wb. For RBS (Rod beater sheller) at a feed rate of 30 kg/hr and 22.6 mm clearance, the highest shelling efficiency was 58.3% for ICGV 99568, 42.7% for ICGV 90704 and 35% for ICGV 12991 at moisture content of 7% wb.  Identification of the pertinent parameters showed that pod moisture content, clearance and sieve size influence performance of manually operated groundnut. Theoretical predictive models developed were optimized which showed that a maximum shelling efficiency of 88.73% can be achieved with percent damage of 4% when the sieve size is 11 mm and clearance is 16 mm with a regression coefficient of over 85 %. With the modifications done on the WBS decorticator, the highest shelling efficiency of 87% was obtained at a clearance of 10 mm for ICGV 99568 which is the largest in size from the three varieties. The shelling efficiency of the modified decorticator is far above those of the RBS and WBS because the sieve sizes and clearances of the later were not optimized. The results of the theoretical optimization of the manually operated groundnut decorticator implies that farmers who shell for seeds can now obtain more seeds shelled with low breakage and therefore will get more income.

 

Keywords:  Decorticator; Shelling; Efficiency; Optimization; Clearance; Groundnut

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