Raveendran Helps Ceylon Tea to Keep Up with the Changing Times
|Ceylon Tea, known the world over for its rich taste and high quality is a top contributor to the foreign exchange earnings of Sri Lanka. However, there are many contenders in the international market, and continuous improvement is a must to stay competitive. Tea was once enjoyed leisurely, sipped in expensive china.|
The requirements for tea has diversified, and now is seen more as an on the go drink. Tea manufacturing has had to adjust to these changing needs by producing a grade of tea with smaller leaf particles, commonly known as BOPF, instead of the traditional whole leaves. These changes come with challenges in processing. For instance, the conventional fluid bed dryers which are used for drying tea proved less effective for treating smaller tea particles.
In fluid bed dryers, the moist tea leaf particles are sent through a jet of hot air. With smaller than conventional tea particle sizes, the moisture content in the dried tea fluctuates, affecting the quality of tea. In addition, the hot air exiting the dryer causes the loss of some of the smaller tea particles.
Raveendran Kandasamy, who is a researcher at the Tea Research Institute in Talawakelle, Sri Lanka, undertook to look at the above issues in his PhD research at the University of Moratuwa. He experimented with the bed plate configuration, hot air velocity, operating conditions and loading rate of tea leaf particles(fannings) to obtain the best tea quality. Lab scale experiments were done with a specially designed bed plates with different configurations to optimize th
Raveendran's findings can be used to make steadier driers with less moisture variation in tea, which directly influences its quality and reduces wastage. Therefore, this research is one that directly impacts the Sri Lankan economy. ‘I would like to see tea factories benefiting from my findings, so, I am currently working with an Engineering Firm to fabricate the identified optimal bedplate configuration and make it available in the market’, says Raveendran.
Raveendran joined the University of Moratuwa after completing his school education from St John’s College, Jaffna, and graduated with a B.Sc. (Engineering) degree in Chemical and Process Engineering. He completed a Masters in Energy Technology from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand prior to taking up Doctoral studies with UOM at the same department where he obtained his Bachelors degree. Expenses for Raveenran’s study were borne by the Tea Research Institute. Raveendran was supervised by Prof. Shantha Amarasinghe of UoM, and Dr. W. S. Boteju, who is currently the Deputy Director, Process Technology, at the Tea Research Institute. Raveendran is continuing his good work at the Tea Research Institute as a Principal Researcher.
Prof. Shantha Amarasinghe has a Bachelors degree in Chemical and Process Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. His research interests are in chemical engineering design and applications, energy conservation and efficiency, natural product chemistry and applications, and waste to energy and useful products.