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Improving the Operation of the Conventional Citronella Oil Extractor through Optimization Studies

Ronel S. Pangan1, Victor A. Rodulfo, Jr.2, Ralph Kristoffer B. GallegosRossana Marie C. Amongo4 and Archard M. Arenal5



Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) oil is commonly extracted by the process of steam distillation where hot steam passes through the materials. Due to the high temperature, the oil evaporates. The gases, (oil and steam) then pass through a condenser where both the oil and water liquefies. Since, the oil and water do not mix, the oil can be easily separated. However, this conventional process is very inefficient in terms of oil recovery, about 0.35 to 0.6% only, thus optimization studies were conducted to determine the different parameters that affect the oil recovery. The study aimed to optimize the performance of the 150 kg load   citronella distiller located at the UP-LQLG in Siniloan, Laguna. Box and Behnken experimental design was used to determine the effects of air drying time after harvest, length of cut of the leaves and  loading capacity to the weight of wood fuel used, time of extraction and oil recovery. Response surface regression methodology was used in analyzing the responses. Results showed that the time of extraction was                independent of the operating parameters while the weight of fuel used was solely dependent on the loading capacity. The optimum values obtained were 3 days of air drying time after harvest, 3 inches length of cut and 50 kg loading capacity. The combination resulted to 0.75% oil recovery, 100 kg weight of wood fuel and 7.52 hours of extraction. The cost of producing citronella oil was computed to be greater than its current selling price making the operation not profitable with the current scale.

Keywords: pneumatic, fertilizer distribution

1 Engineer III, 2Engineer IV, Agricultural Mechanization Development Program (AMDP), Institute of Agricultural Engineering (IAE), College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology (CEAT), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB);  3Instructor; 4Assistant Professor, and 5BSAE Graduate, Agricultural  Machinery Division (AMD), IAE, CEAT, UPLB, 4031 College, Laguna, Philippines.