WO2007112510A1 - Apparatus for opening cocoa pods - Google Patents

Apparatus for opening cocoa pods Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2007112510A1
WO2007112510A1 PCT/AU2007/000453 AU2007000453W WO2007112510A1 WO 2007112510 A1 WO2007112510 A1 WO 2007112510A1 AU 2007000453 W AU2007000453 W AU 2007000453W WO 2007112510 A1 WO2007112510 A1 WO 2007112510A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
wheels
pod
cutter
pieces
cutting
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2007/000453
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Craig Lemin
Original Assignee
The State Of Queensland (Acting Through Its Department Of Primary Industries And Fisheries)
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to AU2006901746A priority Critical patent/AU2006901746A0/en
Priority to AU2006901746 priority
Application filed by The State Of Queensland (Acting Through Its Department Of Primary Industries And Fisheries) filed Critical The State Of Queensland (Acting Through Its Department Of Primary Industries And Fisheries)
Publication of WO2007112510A1 publication Critical patent/WO2007112510A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A23FOODS OR FOODSTUFFS; TREATMENT THEREOF, NOT COVERED BY OTHER CLASSES
    • A23NMACHINES OR APPARATUS FOR TREATING HARVESTED FRUIT, VEGETABLES OR FLOWER BULBS IN BULK, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; PEELING VEGETABLES OR FRUIT IN BULK; APPARATUS FOR PREPARING ANIMAL FEEDING- STUFFS
    • A23N5/00Machines for hulling, husking or cracking nuts

Abstract

Cocoa pods are opened after harvesting in order to release the beans. Apparatus is provided including a cutter, a splitter and a grabber with a common alignment. The cutter cuts the husk of each pod longitudinally into two or more pieces. The splitter separates the pieces of husk after action by the cutter. The grabber urges each pod through the cutter and onto the splitter. A conveyor which orients the husks before reaching the cutter may be provided. A collector which receives the pieces of husk and separates the beans may also be provided.

Description

APPARATUS FOR OPENING COCOA PODS
BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION
This invention relates to apparatus for opening cocoa pods as part of the process for extracting cocoa beans from harvested cocoa pods.
The fruit of the cocoa tree is an oval shaped pod, typically about 15-30cm in length and 8- 15cm in diameter. Each pod has a hard fibrous husk about l-2cm in thickness and contains 30-40 seeds commonly known as cocoa beans, surrounded by a pulp. The pods are harvested from the trees and must be forced or broken open to obtain the beans that are the source of various chocolate and cocoa products.
Harvesting is still largely a manual process carried out predominantly by small-holder farmers in the producing countries. Various automated equipment has been developed for opening the pods and extracting the beans but few have apparently been commercialised or widely adopted by the growers/processsors. In many cases the machines apparently operate by crushing the pods and then separating the beans from the husk by rotating trommels.
However, fragments of the husk can be time consuming to separate from the cocoa beans after the crushing process. In other cases where machines apparently operate by cutting pods into discrete pieces no automated feed system is proposed which means that manual feeding is required and throughput is too low.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is an object of the invention to provide an improved apparatus for opening of cocoa pods, or at least to provide an alternative to existing apparatus.
In one aspect the invention may broadly be said to reside in apparatus for opening cocoa pods, including: a cutter which cuts the husk of each pod longitudinally into two or more pieces, a splitter which separates the pieces of husk after action by the cutter, and a grabber which urges each pod through the cutter and onto the splitter. Preferably the cutter, the grabber and the splitter are aligned symmetrically and vertically with a common axis down which the pods are urged.
In one embodiment the cutter includes a pair of driven cutting wheels, biased together from opposite sides of a pod, and between which the pod passes to be cut into halves. The cutting wheels are counter rotating and held at a predetermined but variable separation. Each cutting wheel is mounted on a pivoting arm to accommodate a range of pod sizes. In another embodiment the cutter includes two pairs of driven cutting wheels, the wheels of each pair being biased together from opposite sides of a pod, and between which the pod passes to be cut into quarters. In both cases the depth of cut is limited to the typical thickness of the pod husk so as to avoid cutting of cocoa beans inside the pod.
In one embodiment the grabber includes a set of driven wheels with compliant casings, held at a predetermined separation on opposite sides of a pod, and between which the pod is held longitudinally and urged into the cutter. The wheel set is typically a pair of opposed counter rotating wheels held at an adjustable separation. Alternatively the set includes two pairs of wheels, each pair having wheels on opposite sides of the pod, the pairs placed perpendicular to each other to form a central passage for pods. The rims of the wheels are provided with casings or tyres having a cross section which accommodates a range of pod shapes.
In one embodiment the splitter includes one or more plates located directly below the cutter and oriented in parallel with the cutter. The plates typically have a moderately sharpened leading edge to force the pod pieces apart.
The apparatus is normally operated with a conveyor which orients and drops the pods longitudinally into the grabber. A collector is also usually provided to receive pieces of husk from the splitter and release cocoa beans from the pieces by agitation. In another aspect the invention resides in a method of opening a cocoa pod, including: grabbing the pod between the casings of counter-rotating wheels, urging the pod through a set of cutting blades by rotation of the wheels, cutting the husk of the pod into two or more pieces by action of the blades, and splitting the pieces to expose cocoa beans within the husk.
Preferably the centres of the grabbing wheels are located in a common horizontal plane and the wheels rotate perpendicular to the plane. The centres of the cutting wheels are located in the same plane as or below the plane through the centres of the grabbing wheels. The pod pieces are separated by a plate aligned with the cutting blades.
Preferably the pod is oriented longitudinally before being grabbed by the wheels. The grabbing wheels have resilient rims spaced apart to engage and form a passage for pods.
Preferably the cutting blades are provided as a set of opposed counter-rotating wheels located adjacent the grabbing wheels. The blades rotate in a vertical plane perpendicular to the plane of rotation of the grabbing wheels.
The invention may further be said to reside in any alternative combination of parts which are indicated in this specification. All equivalents of these parts are deemed to be included whether or not explicitly set out.
LIST OF FIGURES
Preferred embodiments of the invention will be described in relation to the accompanying drawings, of which:
Figures Ia, Ib, Ic schematically show cocoa pod splitting apparatus, Figures 2a, 2b indicate operation of a grabber in the apparatus of Figure 1, Figures 3a, 3b show alternative grabber configurations with conventional wheels, Figures 4a, 4b show alternative grabber configurations with profiled wheels,
Figures 5a, 5b show alternative cutter configurations, Figure 6 shows alternative splitter geometries,
Figures 7a, 7b show how the grabber and the cutter may be motorised, and
Figures 8a, 8b show how pods may be input and output from the apparatus.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Referring to these drawings it will be appreciated that apparatus according to the invention may be implemented as a machine in various forms and that the embodiments described here are given by way of example only. Machines according to the invention are suitable for opening cocoa pods but could also be suitable for opening pods of other kinds.
Figures Ia, Ib3 Ic are three views of the main components of a preferred pod opening machine, with a cocoa pod 10 about to be processed. In this example, the machine includes a set of grabbing wheels 11, a set of cutting wheels 12 and a splitting plate 13, all aligned in relation to a central axis 14. The grabbing wheels are counter-rotating in the directions indicated and are about to engage and urge the pod 10 downwards along the axis of the machine. The cutting wheels are also counter-rotating in the directions indicated and lie adjacent the grabbing wheels also on the path of the pod. The splitting plate lies on the axis beneath the cutting wheels. As the pod moves through the machine it is first engaged by the grabbing wheels, then urged between the cutting wheels which divide the husk into pieces, and then urged onto the splitting plate which separates the pieces and exposes the beans. Auxiliary systems which align and feed pods into the grabbing wheels, and which collect and remove the separated pieces, have been omitted from these views for clarity.
In the example of Figures Ia, Ib, Ic, the machine includes two pairs of grabbing wheels 11, arranged in parallel about the central axis 14, with the cutting wheels 12 perpendicular to the grabbing wheels. Many other configurations of these wheels are possible, some of which are described below. In Figure Ia, a side view of the machine shows the grabbing wheels and cutting wheels from a point which is respectively perpendicular and parallel to their planes of rotation. In Figure Ib, an alternate side view conversely shows the grabbing wheels and cutting wheels parallel and perpendicular to their respective planes of rotation. The splitting plate 13 is shown from one side, parallel to the plane of the cutting wheels. In Figure Ic, the view is from above the machine, parallel to both the planes of rotation. A central passage for downward movement of cocoa pods is defined by the grabbing wheels along the axis 14.
Both the grabbing wheels 11 and the cutting wheels 12 in Figures Ia, Ib, Ic are adjustable in relation to the axis 14 to form the central passage. The cutting wheels are also adjustable vertically in relation to the grabbing wheels. The grabbing wheels are mounted on bearings (not shown) which can be relocated perpendicular to the axis 14 to determine the pressure which the wheels apply to the pods. The cutting wheels are mounted on swing arms 16 and are also biased toward the axis 14 with sufficient force to pierce the husk of each pod. An idealised spring mechanism 17 is shown for this purpose, although in practice the arms may be biased in many ways, jointly or independently. Inward bias of the swing arms under influence of the spring mechanism is limited in the resting position by adjustable frame stops mounted at the top of each swing arm (not shown). A cutting action may be provided in various ways, although circular blades mounted as powered, rotating wheels are generally considered to be more effective than static blade systems. In this embodiment the depth of the cutting action is limited by a circular backing plate mounted directly against one or both sides of the cutting blades.
Figures 2a and 2b are plan views showing alternate systems of grabbing wheels in relation to a pod 10. The grabbing wheels may be manufactured specifically for use in the machine but are also converted from some other purpose, such as motorcycle wheels. In Figure 2a, the wheels use conventional rubber motorcycle tyres 20 provided in two parallel pairs, as also indicated in Figures Ia, Ib, Ic. Conventional tyres have a convex outer surface. The pairs are placed with a common orientation on opposite sides of the axis 14 so as to form a passage along the pod is urged towards the cutting wheels. In Figure 2b, the tyres 21 are manufactured from EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) with a specific profile tailored to engage the pod. These tyres have a concave outer surface so only two opposed wheels are required to form the central passage. Figures 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b show alternate configurations for the grabbing wheels in relation to the cutting wheels. The wheels are provided in sets with conventional or profiled tyres respectively, as mentioned above. In Figures 3a and 4a, a set of cutting wheels is shown in a plane perpendicular to the plane of the grabbing wheels. The grabbing wheels urge the pod through the cutting wheels which pierce and divide the husk into halves. In Figures 3b and 4b, two pairs of opposed cutting wheels are shown in relation to two pairs of opposed grabbing wheels. The grabbing wheels form a set that is equally spaced at 90° intervals around the axis 14 of the machine. The axis is perpendicular to the page in these views and has not been shown. Similarly the cutting wheels form a set which is equally spaced around the axis, but offset at 45° to the grabbing wheels. A multiple splitting plate arrangement (not shown) is provided in correspondence with the cutting wheels. In this configuration the husk of a pod is divided into quarters.
Figures 5a, 5b show alternative configurations of the cutting wheels in relation to a set of grabbing wheels with conventional tyres 20. Each wheel includes a circular blade 50 mounted on a backing plate 51. In Figure 5a the edges of the blades are bevelled on opposite sides and are overlapped. In Figure 5b the edges are bevelled on both sides and are directly opposed. An overlapping configuration provides for a better cutting geometry with respect to the ends of the pods which results in a cleaner separation of the pieces of husk once passed over the splitting plate.
Figure 6 shows a range of different shapes for the splitting plate. The plate is mounted in a vertical orientation parallel to the cutting blades and centrally in relation to the axis 14 with a peaked portion directed upwards into the passage down which the pods are urged by the grabbing wheels. Single or multiple peaked plates are possible with a double peak version being currently preferred since it assists centralising pods as they pass onto the splitting plate. The plate is adjustable both vertically and horizontally in relation to the cutting wheels in order to achieve optimum alignment.
Figures 7a, 7b show how the grabbing wheels, cutting wheels and splitting plate may be arranged on a frame and how the wheels may be motorised. The frame includes upright members 70 and cross members 71. These form a structure sufficient to support the forces generated by the weight and operation of the set of opposed grabbing wheels H5 the set of opposed cutting wheels 12 and the splitting plate 13 as about 1-2 pods per second 10 are processed. The grabbing wheels and the cutting wheels are driven by motors 72 and 73, through respective sequences of gears and chains or belts. The wheels are adjustable about the vertical axis 14 and provide a central passage down which the pods are urged, cut and then split into two or more pieces. Straightforward details of the frame and its various fittings have been omitted for clarity in these figures.
In Figure 7a, a sequence of chains/belts and sprockets/pulleys/gears connects motor 72 to the grabbing wheels 11. The opposed sets of grabbing wheels should be driven with equal power and torque, in opposite directions as indicated, and a range of different systems could be used. In this example, a main drive pulley/shaft 74 divides the power between the opposed sets of grabbing wheels via primary drive sprockets 82 and a chain/gear system 71/75 which reverses the direction of rotation for one of the wheels. Power is then delivered to the grabbing wheels by chains 78 and side sprockets 76. The wheels are also mounted on adjustable bearings 77 which enable their axes of rotation to be varied towards or way from the axis 14.
In Figure 7b, a different sequence of chains/belts and sprockets connects motor 73 to the cutting wheels 12. The opposed cutting wheels should also be driven with equal power and torque, in opposite directions as indicated, and a range of systems could be used. The wheels are mounted on swing arms 16 biased together by an adjustable spring 17 and partly by an over-centre effect of the drive sequence. The swing arms 16 are adjustable in length. Similarly the splitting plate 13 is adjustable in height. In this example, a main drive pulley/shaft 84 divides the power between the cutting wheel primary drive pulleys 81. A reversing chain/sprocket system 85 provides counter-rotation for one of the wheels. Power is delivered to the cutting wheels by side pulleys 86. Rollers 88 vary the course of the belts 80 which drive the side sprockets to provide clearance in relation to the grabbing wheels. In Figure 7b the swing arms 16 are each attached to a cross member of the frame at pivot joints 79. The swing arm primary drive pulleys 81 are not on the same axis of rotation as the the pivot joints. Therefore the belts 80 which drive the cutting wheels 12 are subject to a varying tension depending on the orientation of the swing arms as pods of different diameters pass through the machine. Maximum tension occurs when the arms are pushed apart and the centre of rotation of the cutting wheel side pulleys 86 is in straight line alignment with the swing arm pivot joint 79 and the centre of rotation of the cutting wheel primary drive pulleys 81. This over-centre tension action enables rapid fitting/removal of the belts 80 and could serve as alternative to the spring 17 in some machines.
Figures 8a, 8b show how cocoa pods 10 may be delivered to the pod opening machine and how split husks may be collected for removal of the beans. A moveabϊe V-conveyor 90 carries the pods from a hopper and delivery system (not shown) and orientates them in a longitudinal direction parallel with their direction of travel on the conveyor. At the end of the conveyor the pods are dropped into free space above the pod opening machine so that they fall under gravity and approach the grabber wheels in a more or less vertical alignment with respect to their long axis. The geometry and movement of the grabber wheels acts to centralise and vertically align pods at the point of engagement with the grabber wheels and prior to contact with the cutting wheels. The drop point from the conveyor is in line with the axis 14 but is adjusted to allow for forward movement of pods exerted by the conveyor and rotation of pods about their longitudinal axis as they drop from the end of the conveyor so as to achieve optimal pod alignment at the point of engagement by the grabber wheels.
In Figures 8a, 8b an outlet chute 91 below the machine collects the pieces of husk as they fall from either side of the splitting plate 13, and directs them under gravity into a rotary bean separator 92. The beans fall through the octagonal screened walls of the separator onto a conveyor 93 while the husk pieces pass to the end of the separator and fall onto a further conveyor 94. The conveyors, outlet chute and separator are all known equipment and are not part of the pod opening machine.

Claims

1. Apparatus for opening cocoa pods, including: a cutter which cuts the husk of each pod longitudinally into two or more pieces, a splitter which separates the pieces of husk after action by the cutter, and a grabber which urges each pod through the cutter and onto the splitter.
2. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the cutter, the grabber and the splitter are aligned symmetrically with a common vertical axis down which the pods are urged.
3. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the cutter includes a pair of driven cutting wheels, biased together from opposite sides of each pod, between which the pod passes to be cut into halves.
4. Apparatus according to claim 3 wherein the cutting wheels are counter rotating and held at a predetermined but variable separation.
5. Apparatus according to claim 3 wherein each cutting wheel is mounted on a pivoting arm to accommodate a range of pod sizes.
6. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the cutter includes two pairs of driven cutting wheels, the wheels of each pair being biased together from opposite sides of a pod, and between which the pod passes to be cut into quarters.
7. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the grabber includes a set of driven wheels with compliant casings, held at a predetermined separation on opposite sides of a pod, between which the pod is held longitudinally and urged into the cutter.
8. Apparatus according to claim 7 wherein the set of wheels includes a pair of opposed counter rotating wheels held at an adjustable separation.
9. Apparatus according to claim 8 wherein the set of wheels includes two pairs of wheels, each pair having wheels on opposite sides of the pod, the pairs placed perpendicular to each other to form a central passage for pods.
10. Apparatus according to claim 7 wherein the rims of the wheels are provided with casings or tyres having a cross section which accommodates a range of pod shapes.
11. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the splitter includes one or more plates located directly below the cutter and oriented in parallel with the cutter.
12. Apparatus according to claim 11 wherein the plates have a leading edge which forces pieces of the pod apart.
13. Apparatus according to claim 1 further including a conveyor which orients and drops the pods longitudinally into the grabber.
14 Apparatus according to claim 1 further including a collector which receives pieces of husk from the splitter and releases cocoa beans from the pieces by agitation.
15. A method of opening a cocoa pod, including: grabbing the pod between the casings of counter-rotating wheels, urging the pod through a set of cutting blades by rotation of the wheels, cutting the husk of the pod into two or more pieces by action of the blades, and splitting the pieces to expose cocoa beans within the husk.
16. A method according to claim 15 wherein the centres of the grabbing wheels are located in a common horizontal plane and the wheels rotate perpendicular to the plane.
17. A method according to claim 16 wherein the centres of the cutting blades are located in the same plane as or below the plane through the centres of the grabbing wheels.
18. A method according to claim 15 further including separating the pieces of pod on a plate aligned with the cutting blades.
19. A method according to claim 15 further including orienting the pod longitudinally before entry to the grabbing wheels.
20. A method according to claim 15 wherein the cutting blades are provided as a set of opposed counter-rotating wheels located adjacent the grabbing wheels.
PCT/AU2007/000453 2006-04-04 2007-04-04 Apparatus for opening cocoa pods WO2007112510A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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AU2006901746A AU2006901746A0 (en) 2006-04-04 Apparatus for opening cocoa pods
AU2006901746 2006-04-04

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Cited By (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN102578684A (en) * 2012-02-10 2012-07-18 南昌大学 Hobbing type lotus seed shucker
FR3002117A1 (en) * 2013-02-17 2014-08-22 Stephane Labrue Machine for opening of cocoa pod for separation of shell and internal broad bean, has blade provided with pressing element to apply each pod against edge of blade, where pressing element and blade are moved with regard to each other
CN104720076A (en) * 2015-03-24 2015-06-24 福建农林大学 Fresh lotus seed husking machine and control method thereof
CN104813813A (en) * 2015-04-03 2015-08-05 安徽新桥工贸有限责任公司 Sesame husking apparatus
CN104814508A (en) * 2015-04-03 2015-08-05 安徽新桥工贸有限责任公司 Sesame motor-driven sheller device
WO2017008823A1 (en) * 2015-07-16 2017-01-19 Alfred Ritter Gmbh & Co. Kg Method and device for opening cocoa pods

Families Citing this family (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN109892666A (en) * 2019-04-11 2019-06-18 张伟华 A kind of tea seed sheller
CN111671094B (en) * 2020-07-28 2021-06-01 江西谷纬科技有限公司 Gorgon fruit thresher for food processing

Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
AU478357B2 (en) * 1973-10-19 1976-04-29 Keith James Courte Apparatus for opening cocoa pods andthe like
GB2100968A (en) * 1981-05-15 1983-01-12 Meiji Seika Kaisha Method and apparatus for cracking nuts
FR2524271A1 (en) * 1982-04-05 1983-10-07 Bru Sa Jean De Machine to cut open cacao pods to obtain beans - uses rotor to present pod to blade parallel to longitudinal axis of pod
GB2211722A (en) * 1987-11-02 1989-07-12 Guan Siong Soh Machine for extracting the contents of cocoa pods
WO2005079608A1 (en) * 2004-01-27 2005-09-01 Lucas Cornelius Holtzhausen Shelling of nuts

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
AU478357B2 (en) * 1973-10-19 1976-04-29 Keith James Courte Apparatus for opening cocoa pods andthe like
GB2100968A (en) * 1981-05-15 1983-01-12 Meiji Seika Kaisha Method and apparatus for cracking nuts
FR2524271A1 (en) * 1982-04-05 1983-10-07 Bru Sa Jean De Machine to cut open cacao pods to obtain beans - uses rotor to present pod to blade parallel to longitudinal axis of pod
GB2211722A (en) * 1987-11-02 1989-07-12 Guan Siong Soh Machine for extracting the contents of cocoa pods
WO2005079608A1 (en) * 2004-01-27 2005-09-01 Lucas Cornelius Holtzhausen Shelling of nuts

Cited By (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN102578684A (en) * 2012-02-10 2012-07-18 南昌大学 Hobbing type lotus seed shucker
FR3002117A1 (en) * 2013-02-17 2014-08-22 Stephane Labrue Machine for opening of cocoa pod for separation of shell and internal broad bean, has blade provided with pressing element to apply each pod against edge of blade, where pressing element and blade are moved with regard to each other
CN104720076A (en) * 2015-03-24 2015-06-24 福建农林大学 Fresh lotus seed husking machine and control method thereof
CN104813813A (en) * 2015-04-03 2015-08-05 安徽新桥工贸有限责任公司 Sesame husking apparatus
CN104814508A (en) * 2015-04-03 2015-08-05 安徽新桥工贸有限责任公司 Sesame motor-driven sheller device
WO2017008823A1 (en) * 2015-07-16 2017-01-19 Alfred Ritter Gmbh & Co. Kg Method and device for opening cocoa pods

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