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Pneumatic cleaning and separation system for sugarcane and other agricultural products


The fundamental objective of this research and innovation project is to develop a new stationary industrial system capable of receiving cane or other mechanically harvested agricultural materials and to separate its constituents along pneumatic conveying lines. Unlike current systems based on aerodynamic drag force, our proposal makes use of Saffman's lift force or force in pneumatic conveying lines as a principle that promotes the separation between the different particulate constituents. This feature represents the fundamental element of innovation. Its application will allow the development of a separation system of great constructive simplicity, without moving parts such as rotating screens and conveyor belts, and, consequently, achieving high energy efficiencies and operational robustness. Based on the successful proof of concept in phase 1, we now aim to begin product development that will embark on the proposed new separation technology. Surveys of potential customers during FAPESP training and throughout phase 1 have identified solid demands for two types of equipment: 1) a separator for bollards and sugarcane straw received on plant wagons and 2) a separator or dry-cleaning system for straw and soil received in bales at the plant. We then intend to design and build two specialized pilot circuits for these applications as well as perform extensive experimental qualification testing of their performance, measured according to the methodology developed in phase 1. The cane and straw separator pilot will have characteristics and dimensions similar to the equipment built in phase 1, but the horizontal section of pneumatic separation should consist of square section tubes. In addition to increasing constructive simplicity this option allows to minimize heavier particle aggregation effects caused by piping bottom concavity. As for the second pilot, we intend to adapt the equipment built in phase 1 to the pneumatic characteristics of particulates composed of straw and earth. The results and experience accumulated in phase 1, as well as information obtained from potential customers, allowed us to identify three crucial aspects for the performance and robustness of the developed equipment: 1) optimization of the separation term geometry, 2) energy demand optimization and 3 ) reduction / control of wear caused by the impact of particles with the inner walls of the pipe. These aspects will support specific studies to be carried out in partnership under the agreement already signed with EESC / USP through the USP Innovation Agency. This agreement provides, among other activities, for the commercial exploitation of the patent by the company upon payment of royalties to the university. Regarding the business plan and strategy for introducing new technology developed in this project (phase 2), it is important to highlight that our main difficulty stems from the current paradigm that "& dry-cleaning systems do not work." E In fact, current systems perform far below expectations, especially in relation to what is advertised by the companies that sell them. However, our technology is totally different from current technology (drag force versus Saffman force as a separation promoting effect) and the performances obtained so far are much higher. It is therefore necessary to break this paradigm, otherwise we will see an excellent technological solution despised by the market. We then plan, initially, to install pilot demonstration equipment in partner plants under risk contracts and / or joint ventures for example. (AU)

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