GS Paper - 3 Indigenous Technology

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp) announced that they have found a novel betel leaf oil extraction technology that they claim is more efficient. The extractor is capable of saving 44% of the time and 30% of the energy requirement while increasing the oil yield by more than 16%, as compared to the current processes and apparatus popularly used.

What

  1. Betel leaves, which are a key ingredient of 'paan', a preparation which is consumed as a digestive and mouth freshener after meals, are considered beneficial for digestion, stimulation of senses and fresh breath due to the presence of antimicrobial and antioxidant-rich essential oil.
  2. Extraction of this essential oil from fresh and cured betel leaves is of high interest for industrial applications including medicines, cosmetics chewable mouth fresher which has a very large market in the world. However, the extraction processes suffer from low economic viability and wastage in the value chain of betel leaves.
  3. The extractor was envisaged to be affordable to the betel leaf growers since the cost of fabrication of the extractor was calculated to be Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 for 10L and 20L sizes, respectively.
  4. This could be easily maintained by the small farmers and would also be sufficient for the processing of surplus leaves in any average-sized Boroj (~0.02 ha) on a daily or weekly basis.
  5. India produces betel leaves worth Rs. 9000 million per year grossing as the largest producer of betel leaf in the world. However, achieving profitability remains a crucial challenge as a minimum of 10% of the produce is wasted every year and a large portion remains unsold or sold at throwaway prices during the glut season.
  6. This extractor equipment is expected to check such wastage and channel the surplus for various industrial products.
  7. The equipment can extract essential oil from other organic materials as well. It has been patented and transferred to more than 20 government and private bodies and more are underway.