Design and implementation of a smart system to control aromatic herb dehydration process
- Autori: Catania, Pietro; Gaglio, Raimondo; Orlando, Santo; Settanni, Luca; Vallone, Mariangela
- Anno di pubblicazione: 2020
- Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
- OA Link: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/430842
Drying is a process aimed at reducing the water content in plant materials below a limit where the activity of microbes and decomposing enzymes deteriorate the quality of medicinal and aromatic plants. Today, the interest of consumers towards medicinal and aromatic herbs has registered a growing trend. This study aims at designing a low-cost real-time monitoring and control system for the drying process of aromatic herbs and evaluating drying ecacy on the microbial community associated with the studied herbs. Hot-air drying tests of sage and laurel leaves were carried out in a dryer desiccator cabinet at 40 C and 25% relative humidity using three biomass densities (3, 4 and 5 kg/m 2 ). The prototype of the smart system is based on an Arduino Mega 2560 board, to which nine Siemens 7MH5102-1PD00 load cells and a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor were added. The data acquired by the sensors were transmitted through Wi-Fi to a ThingSpeak account in order to monitor the drying process in real time. The variation in the moisture content of the product and the drying rate were obtained. The system provided a valid support decision during the drying process, allowing for the precise monitoring of the evolution of the biomass moisture loss and drying rate for laurel and sage. The three dierent biomass densities employed did not provide significant dierences in the drying process for sage. Statistically significant dierences among the three tests were found for laurel in the final part of the process. The microbial loads of the aromatic herbs after drying were influenced by the dierent leaf structures of the species; in particular, with laurel leaves, microbial survival increased with increasing biomass density. Finally, with the drying method adopted, the two species under consideration showed a dierent microbial stability and, consequently, had a dierent shelf life, longer for sage than laurel, as also confirmed by water activity (aw) values.