Couscous manufacture in fluidized bed by wet agglomeration of wheat semolina
Agglomeration is a key unitary operation in a number of industries (pharmaceutical, chemical, food, civil engineering). The agglomeration process controls the structural characteristics and final properties of agglomerates. One of the activities involving food agglomeration is the production of couscous by agglomeration of durum wheat semolina. Couscous is considered the most important traditional dish among the Maghreb people. The industrial process of couscous production includes various stages, the most important of which is wet granulation of semolina, which contributes to the quality of the final product. The agglomeration of cereal powders from different origins (durum wheat, maize and barley) has been performed in a variety of equipment such as high shear mixers, drum mills and fluidized beds. However, the agglomeration of semolina in fluidized beds has had very limited study. The purpose of this research is, therefore, to study couscous production using durum wheat semolina in a fluidized bed equipped with a spray nozzle. The fluidized bed has the advantage of generating strong particle movement and intense mixing to increase the size of the granules evenly throughout the mass used.The efficiency of this process is determined by the couscous yield defined as the mass ratio of couscous to raw material. The results showed that couscous can be produced from semolina by wet fluidized bed agglomeration with a specific effect of fluidification air flow, liquid flow, bed temperature and spray liquid properties on the couscous quality (size, brittleness and morphology) as well as on yield. The latter rose by 60% when the water containing flour was sprayed. Furthermore, the results of this study showed that granules size changes directly with the liquid flow rate, while temperature and air flow have an opposite effect. It was also found that changing binder components have an effect on the quality of the agglomeration of the product.
Key words: Couscous, agglomeration, fluidization, semolina, friability, granulation, atomization, size enlargement, drying
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