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Katha Drying

August 1, 2011


Katha is an extract derived from the hardwood of khair (Acacia catechu) by boiling. It is a clay-colored crystalline substance used in the preparation of "pan," a chewing material popular in Asia and East Africa. Cutch, a by-product of katha production is a black reddish gum resin which is used in tanning, dyeing and as a lubricant in oil-well drilling. It is also traditionally used for making medicines. Conventionally Katha (an essential ingredient of paan masala and paan), is dried by traditional cold room drying process. It is kept in cold rooms for over a period of about 24days, with cold dry air blowing over it.

The moisture levels are reduced from typically 50% + to about 12-15%. The temperature in the cold room is maintained at slightly above 0ºC,throughout the process time. However, by adopting low pressure drying techniques, this period can be reduced substantially.

This would not only save energy requirements but also reduce the huge inventory hold-ups. Katha is a high-priced product and shortening of the process time would result in substantial savings otherwise involved. Shorter process times also reduce possibility of fungus/molds/bacteria attacks. During the selection & designing of any drying process the fact is that basic energy requirements are proportional to the mass of water/solvent evaporated and no process can alter it.

The additional /auxiliary energy, which is relatively a large percentage of the total energy, can be minimized which would be the savings. Low pressure & temperature drying offers energy efficient alternatives to the conventional drying methods. The additional capital cost of the equipment is easily offset by the gains in productivity and quality improvements. Further some other traditional methods like drying in a heating chamber is also commonly used in India.

Drying is rapid at 30ºC but Katha characteristics are maintained well when drying is executed at 5 ºC or10ºC. The duration of drying period is longer at 5ºC as compared to drying at 30 ºC.

General Recommendation:

RH to be maintained at 12-15%.

TDS Solution:

Low pressure drying techniques, can reduce the drying period substantially. TDS provides desiccant based dehumidifiers on rent along with technical manpower to achieve the desired RH level of 12%-15%.

Katha being a high priced product shortening of process time results in substantial savings. 

Fewer inventory hold-ups. 

The main USP of TDS product drying services is that it provides highly qualified technical manpower along with all the required equipments. As the service is provided on rental basis it can be availed whenever required.

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