Semidried codfish for sale. (Photo: Terje Engoe)
Process designed to reduce cod drying costs
Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 16:20 (GMT + 9)
After three years of research, researchers at the University of Aveiro (UA) developed a process to reduce the cost of drying wet salted cod.
The group's objective was to discuss ways to improve the drying process performance of 'green' cod (salted at landing), and so the focus was on trying to reduce the drying time.
In this regard, Fernando Neto, coordinator of the Commission for the Knowledge and Technology Transfer of the UA and team coordinator, explained Mundo Portugués that the costs of the cod transformation process from being wet to being dry salted are high and are "basically associated to energy costs."
Currently, the district of Aveiro concentrates most of the cod transforming industries, located mainly in the areas of Ílhavo and Gafanha da Nazaré.
"Cod processing has a huge social and economic importance in Aveiro. The cod processing industry activity moves a value that is higher than EUR 500 million annually and the salting and drying activities represent more than 50 per cent (in value terms) of the domestic fish processing industry," added the UA researcher.
The project, entitled Optimizing the wet salted cod drying process, included the construction of experimental drying facilities, which made it possible to carry out research in the laboratory of the Centre for Mechanical Technology and Automation of the UA.
"We created a model to predict the behaviour of cod, that is to say, moisture loss over time, depending on external conditions," explained Neto.
The next step was the development of a team control algorithm "that actually allowed a more precise control of the facility."
During the study, the influence of parameters such as humidity, temperature and air velocity was analysed in the duration and cost of the drying process. Then strategies to reduce the drying time were studied so as to significantly lower energy costs.
At present, the researchers worked only on a laboratory scale, but Neto said they hope to develop an industrial scale process. To progress in this stage they will seek to establish contacts with the Industrial Association of cod and sector companies.
By Analia Murias