ProcessingThe use of innovative technologies has improved the manufacturing of value-added agarwood products at Vanadurgi. The company follows the multilevel processing system which comprises a primary processing unit, extraction factories and state-of-art facilities. The quality of the essence depends on the quality of wood, the agro-climatic conditions where trees are grown, and the extraction techniques adopted. The company accords utmost importance to proper pre- and post-harvesting techniques. Its farm tech division works closely with farmers to help them understand the quality requirements so that the customers are assured of only quality products.

Primary processing units:

ProcessingThe company is establishing a cluster of primary processing centres at dense-plantation zones where harvested trees are processed to different grades in the presence of growers. Two large scale primary processing factories are coming up at Madikeri and Sakaleshpur wherein agar is cultivated as a rain-fed crop. Two more large scale processing factories will be established at Sirsi and Shimoga where agar is cultivated as an irrigated crop. Two medium size basic facilities are coming up at Karkala and Puttur at lower elevation zones which produce slightly inferior quality oil. The company has a proposal to set up a medium size basic processing factory or collection centre at Koyamuthur in Tamil Nadu and at Kalpetta in Kerala, in the event of the successful cultivation of agarwood in the recently developed plantation there. As a first step, infected trees are harvested, roots are pulled out, small twigs are separated and the stem is cut into pieces of 1-2 metres long, weighing around 10-20 kg each. They are then transported to the nearest primary processing station which has a large number of skilled labour. Here, trees are slit and infected, and non-infected parts are separated using indigenous tools. The infected wood is then graded according to industry standards as soft yellowish white material, average quality brown ones, and good black chips which give out better fragrance when burnt.

Traditional extraction process:

Processing The company follows traditional methods to extract low grade oil from inferior quality wood. To produce odours as per the customers’ requirements, it has made required modifications at various stages of the extraction process. It has developed an efficient agarwood oil distilling process with the assistance of its sister concerns which are engaged in the extraction of value-added food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredients. In general, the traditional process involves the boiling of water into steam, which vapours resin, which is then cooled into liquid form after condensation. At Vanadurgi, a semi-continuous extraction of agarwood oil with water, at the right flow rate and pressure, is followed. This yield and quality is similar to the conventional extraction process which can be done in a shorter duration. The wood is segregated into various grades depending on density and each grade is separately used for extraction. The wood is chopped and dehumidified with electrical dryers, or in the sunlight, for 2 to 3 days. Later, the chopped bits are crushed into about 1 mm grains to increase the surface area of extraction. Based on odour requirements, the material is soaked in a pot for 200 to 400 hours for fermentation. Depending on the distilling capacity, the material is loaded into extraction vessels. The steam distillation or hydro-distillation is followed with the catalysts to increase recovery. The temperature, the number of days of distillation, condensation, and the collection of oil as per the distillation duration will determine the quality of oil. Semi-infected wood is distilled through the steam distillation process, which yields low grade oil. Agar oil and agar wax are extracted from the uninfected wood parts.

Super critical fluid extraction:

Processing The state-of-art processing factory at Bangalore includes a cryogenic machine and a super critical fluid extraction machine. Purest quality high grade oil is extracted from superior grades of resinous wood at this facility. In the first stage, the cryogenic grinding machine powders the elements at sub-zero temperatures ranging from 0-10°C. The elements are then frozen with liquid nitrogen, as they are finally being ground to particles without disturbing the volatile and heat-sensitive constituents of the wood. The oil is then extracted from resinous wood through super critical fluid extraction using carbon-dioxide as a solvent. The extraction facility has three vessels of 300 litres capacity. The powder is loaded into the extraction vessel and pressurised with CO2 to dissolve. Transferred to a fraction collector, the contents are depressurised and the CO2 loses its solvating power, causing the desired material to precipitate. The condensed CO2 is later recycled. Our well-qualified technical professionals are working with dedication to ensure a systematic production as super critical fluid extraction is a high technology process.

Final processing & forwarding centre:

ProcessingIn the prime plantation zone at Sringeri in Karnataka, the company has established a warehousing, packing and forwarding centre. The place includes an old model plantation, an agriculture research station and an artificial inoculum multiplying unit. A large primary processing unit and a standard resinous wood extraction facility that will roll out several tons of the daily production is coming up. Resinous wood from all primary processing units are transported to Sringeri, where it is either sold as various grades, or extracted for super grades of oil through the traditional process, or sent for modern process at Bangalore. The company has adopted modifications to technologies with experience, which are playing a major role in yielding better recovery and quality. Various grades of chips, flakes, powder, essential oil etc are manufactured as per customer specifications at the primary processing units and are finally transported for packing and forwarding to Sringeri. The powder of uninfected wood and the leftovers of extraction will be sent to the paper pulp industry.

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