Main Article Content
Introduction: Foam mat drying involves the change of agricultural material from a high moisture content level to a stable foam which is achieved by moisture reduction mechanism.
Aim: In this study, foam-mat drying process of watermelon was optimized using response surface methodology. Foaming conditions (carboxyl methyl cellulose and egg albumen) and the drying system parameters (air velocity and air temperature) were optimized using response surface methodology.
Methodology: To evaluate the drying behaviour, the drying experiment was designed using design expert software using a central composite design setting variable of drying temperature (60°C – 80°C), air velocity (0.5 m/s – 2 m/s), carboxyl methyl cellulose (0.5% - 2.5%), egg albumen (5% - 15%). Twenty-two runs of the experiment were performed using different levels of variables combinations. Based on the statistical tests performed, the best model that described each response was selected using a polynomial analysis.
Results: The optimum values for the drying conditions were: 77.42OC, 0.5m/s, 0.5% and 5% for temperature, air velocity, carboxyl methylcellulose and egg albumen respectively and the optimum values for the drying characteristics were: 25.07 KJ/mol, 1.7345E-10 m2/s, 29.019% (wet-basis). 0.742 g/cm3 and 540 minutes (approximately 9hrs) for activation energy, effective diffusivity, moisture content, foam density and the drying time respectively.
Conclusion: The study of the foam-mat drying of watermelon pulp revealed that the inlet temperature, air velocity, CMC and egg albumen has a significant effect on its drying characteristics.
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