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» MECHANIZED PALM KERNEL AND SHELL SEPARATOR
Description and Characteristics
The palm kernel – shell separator is designed to separate cracked palm nuts into various components. Its design combines two distinct separation techniques into a compact single unit. These units are a rotary screen cylinder and an inclined belt conveyor. The rotary screen is made up of two concentric galvanized iron wire mesh screens (an inner and outer screen), rolled with a taper. This assembly is mounted on a shaft through which power is transmitted. The rotary screen is more or less a cleaning device designed to remove all the debris and fine particles and at the same time sort the cleaned mixture of kernels and shells into two size ranges. The output from the screen is deposited on to the conveyor belt assembly. As the material moves up the incline, separation takes place.

How the technology works
The mechanized Palm kernel-shell Separator has three major component unit of equipment namely; a rotary screen, an inclined belt conveyor, and an air separator unit. Cracked mixture to be cleaned and separated is fed through a hopper and separate outlets are provided for the following five components: Clean round shaped whole kernels; clean flat shaped and broken pieces of kernel; mixture of debris and shells; sorted oversize from the rotary screen; and clean shells.

Market Potential
A major by-product of the palm oil production process is the palm nut; which contains an oil-bearing kernel from which palm kernel oil is produced. It is estimated that small-scale indigenous women processors, using traditional techniques process close to 70% of available palm nuts in Ghana into palm kernel oil annually. The most difficult of the operations required in palm kernel oil production is the separation of the kernels from the shells after cracking the nuts. At the moment, the conventional clay bath technique is most often employed in separating the kernels from the shells. This involves the use of clay mixed with water to obtain clay bath slurry, which is mixed thoroughly with the material to be separated. This method is very slow, tedious and requires a lot of experience especially in the preparation of the slurry. By this method, one woman can separate only 60 kilograms of cracked mixture in one day. Besides, the kernels so separated are dirty and require washing and drying before processing to produce palm kernel oil. The efficiency of separation ranges between 90 % and 95% depending on the cracking efficiency, and the capacity is 500 kg/hr. This will save a lot of man-hours and reduce cost of production.

Challenges and Opportunities
Equipment used for fabrication is old and obsolete and will need some upgrading and replacement for purposes of standardization of products. Secondly, initial capital for replication of the prototype is a challenge. Palm kernel oil production is widespread in seven of the ten regions of Ghana and the technology for separating kernels from shells after cracking the nuts continues to be a major challenge.

Collaboration and funding
The project that led to the development of this equipment was funded under AgSSIP and was also a collaborative effort between GRATIS Foundation and Hormeku Engineering.

Dissemination Strategy
Three demonstration units were cited at three selected areas in the oil palm growing regions for the purposes of introducing the technology to end-users and also local artisanal fabricators. Presentations of technical papers on the technology at workshops, conferences, exhibitions and seminars in and outside Ghana. It has also been publish in NARS newsletter.

Users/Beneficiaries
Two levels of beneficiaries are targeted. The first would be agro-industrial machinery fabricators who would be trained to fabricate the equipment for sale to palm kernel oil producers and also the numerous women and women groups scattered all over the country and nearby countries who are involved in palm kernel oil production. Below is a picture of the Mechanized Palm kernel and shell separator.