The Department of Mechanical Engineering of the College of Engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has manufactured a Solar-powered cocoa pod breaker and separation machine to help address cocoa beans damage which is one of the main challenges in the cocoa pod breaking process.
This was discovered during the exhibitions of some inventions of the Colleges at the 9th KNUST Summer School held on Tuesday, 31st August to Friday 3rd September 2021.
According to the Provost of the College, Professor Mark Adom-Asamoah, the safe removal of the beans from the pod in the cocoa value chain process is necessary, however, the lack of machines to break and split beans in the Ghanaian market has forced the process to be done manually.
"This machine will avert fatigue, risk of injury and damage to the beans, and low productivity through the use of a machete", he said.
Professor Adom-Asamoah stated that after several analyses of the first machine manufactured, the team discovered that the pod was not well clamped on the conveyor and the separation process was incomplete, thus, affecting its performance and efficiency.
He revealed that due to the redesigning, the machine’s efficiency has significantly improved with the ability to split 60 cocoa pods per a minute. He added that the machine can separate 97% of the beans from the pod. He indicated that this will soon be mass-produced to meet the needs of farmers.
The machine is made up of two conveyors with loaders and two blades (one at the top and one at the bottom), and the load is driven by a prime mover.
A demonstration showed that once the pods are pushed between the blades, they are split into two halves.
The two halves then fall in a separator which separates the beans from the pod. The beans then fall on a receptacle below and the husk is thrown out.