Food processing without electricity – tech transfer available

A Canadian non-profit organisation has developed a food processing system for the manufacture of value-added products from cereals, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, without electricity.
The VitaGoat can be used as a food production micro-enterprise, as well as in humanitarian hunger alleviation projects or by social institutions such as {mosimage}A Canadian non-profit organisation has developed a food processing system for the manufacture of value-added products from cereals, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, without electricity.
The VitaGoat can be used as a food production micro-enterprise, as well as in humanitarian hunger alleviation projects or by social institutions such as hospitals or schools.
The inventors of the system, Malnutrition Matters, intend to transfer the technology involved to manufacturers in Africa, Latin America and Asia, free of any royalty or licensing fee.
The Vita Goat system can process primary foods into flours, pastes or wet slurries, to be used "as is", or further cooked with steam. Cooked foods can be pressed in a manual filter press to make juices and energy-dense beverages. The key feature of the VitaGoat is that it operates without electricity. Grinding is done by pedal power, while cooking energy is provided via an innovative and fuel-efficient steam boiler.
The VitaGoat has four main components:
Steam boiler: Operating on either wood or other hard fuels or liquid gas, the boiler is estimated to be 10 times more fuel efficient than traditional open fire cooking and more efficient than improved stove-design cooking. Water is heated in an inner chamber and the resulting steam is re-heated in a tube, creating a "superheated steam" that is much hotter than regular steam. The boiler is inexpensive to build, safe, and can be taken apart for cleaning. This latter feature is critical since most boilers accumulate scale on their inner shells and eventually fail.
Cycle grinder: Based on a design originally created in the mid-70s in the US, energy is produced through a pedal-powered system that uses adjustable-speed pulleys, permitting fast and easy grinding of a variety of foods. An inexpensive modified hand mill using metal to metal plates, grinds foods 10-50 times faster than traditional methods.
Cooker: Made entirely from stainless steel, this vessel can cook up to 15 liters of food (including soymilk) per batch, under pressure, thus greatly reducing time and saving fuel. It is equipped with temperature and pressure gauges and a safety pressure relief valve. Product is fed through an easily removable top opening and steam enters the vessel through openings located on the bottom of the vessel. Cooked product exits the cooker through a valve-controlled bottom opening.
Press: This component is also made of stainless steel. Pressing occurs by turning a screwed rod that pushes onto a sanitary plastic disc, in turn squeezing out liquid from product held within a filter bag. The liquid pours out the bottom into a pail. The press is very simple to operate and clean.
All key parts of the system, including the boiler and bicycle grinder, were designed to make them practical to produce under African manufacturing environments, using mostly common parts and materials.
Malnutrition Matters intends to transfer all aspects of fabrication, spare parts and training responsibilities to prospective manufacturers. This should result in a local price of about US$2,500, or less. Fabrication can be transferred gradually, with some components sourced from North America in the first stage.
The major investment cost of setting up a VitaGoat system is the cost of the equipment itself, along with a suitable production space. There are no costs associated with installing or consuming electricity or running water. The water source for the system can be as simple as a bucket. It is expected that the investment will pay for itself within a year, assuming 3-4 hours daily production.
Three pilot systems have so far been installed, in Mozambique Chad and Guinea, and Maltnutrition Matters has identified one technology transfer partner in Benin and is negotiating with a possible candidate in North Korea.

frank@malnutrition.org
www.malnutrition.org