22 December 2000

Vacuum root cleaner needs lot less water

VEGETABLE cleaning could take on a new dimension when Netagcos latest development comes on line.

More than a water sapping and agitation process, the system employs a combination of vacuum and water to release dirt and grime from root crops.

Placed in a vacuum chamber and submerged in water, the vacuum is increased to 90%, which has the effect of pulling out the air from clods, disintegrating them at the same time.

After about five minutes the crop is released to be rinsed off and the job is completed.

Advantages of the system include a vast reduction in the amount of water used; the water in the chamber can be reused over and over again and the rinsing process calls for only a relatively small amount of water.

Netagco is aiming the process principally at the potato market, but says it can work equally well with crops such as parsnips and carrots.

The company is also undergoing trials with softer-skinned crops such as onions and other bulbs. Although the washing process is deemed to be satisfactory, Netagco trials are to discover whether there is any detrimental effect on re-growth, an important factor for the bulb industry.

A full-scale plant would call for an 8t capacity batch system having an output of about 50t/hour, says the company. There are plans to develop a mobile version of the cleaning system to meet the increasing interest in such services. &#42

Netagcos vacuum and water cleaning system helps to release mud and clods from root crops.