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Machine would dry yucca leaves for nutritional purposes

By: Agencia de Noticias UN

A thermodynamic design, developed by Mining College researchers, dehydrates yucca leaves for animal or human consumption.

Víctor Hugo Borda, a researcher of the Applied Thermodynamic and Alternative Energy Group (TAYEA, for its Spanish acronym) of UN, developed a thermo-photovoltaic device, in other words, a device that will allow the exchange of heat and electric energy inside a drying chamber for the extraction of moisture contained within yucca leaves.

Why yucca? As explained by a member of TAYEA, the raw protein content in the yucca leaf is above 20%. Nevertheless, it also has substances such as hydrocyanic acid, a toxic compound that may be eliminated in the technological process proposed by the UN researchers.

The research concluded that there are several ways to dry products, such as coffee, but the importance of this proposed method is that “nobody uses thermodynamic models for drying and these provide a guide as to how to engineer the machine and how to perform the drying procedure in order to not lose the physical chemical properties or degrade the proteins in the material”, stated Víctor Hugo Borda.

Another great feature of this machine is that renewable and solar energy is used in order to enable areas without electricity to use this kind of alternative procedure.

The machine has a thermo–solar system, composed of several Fresnel lenses, focusing solar energy towards a thermal plate with photovoltaic panels. The focused heat is used to increase the air temperature in the drying chamber, where the yucca leaves are deposited.

Preliminary drying tests have been performed in laboratory operating units with 3 kilos of leaves brought from the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) in Palmira. This center has the specific material and special varieties in their crops for the tests performed with UN hybrid photo–voltaic equipment which is used for drying other materials.

Although the research only utilizes the thermodynamic model in order to analyze the behavior of the material in an industrial setting, countries in Africa and China have been known to test this nutritional strategy using raw materials such as the yucca leaf.

This strategy could be used in the Colombian Department of La  Guajira or the Mutatá region in the Department of Antioquia.

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