The Thien Baffle for Cocoa Husk Collection

I have a working cyclone dusk collector. However, I never use it for household cleaning. It is solely intended for roasted cocoa winnowing, separating unwanted husks from precious nibs.

A year ago, I decided to streamline my cacao processing operations. Started with the messiest and most labor extensive part, the winnowing. Imagine 20 kilograms was stealing eight hours time, cracking with loosely adjusted cornmill and winnowing with a round bamboo tray.

I bought a ShopVac and made a crude separator can. This would suck up the husk, trap those in separator, and keep the vacuum container cleaner longer.

It was not working as expected so I sorted to alternative designs. Selected the cyclone separator option and built it with scrap and other cheap market materials. Do real life testing and revising as necessary. It took me almost a year to get it work to my liking.

It is working and I feel the need for another one. I need it for second winnowing pass to remove the thin plastic like coverings and dust that are not separated via first pass.

Replicating my previous build would be a no brainer. However, I am thinking of reducing its size. The cone I used for cyclone eats space as big as the 5 gallon bucket. Cone size reduction is not an option. It also means reducing pipework diameter which will surely lead to increase air drag and lower performance. Plus, its build time is approximately three days minimum. It is for a none wood worker like me. Experienced dude in a well-equipped shop could do it in a couple of hours.

There are two popular dust separator designs on net. The first is the clycone separator. A reverse cone design. The second is thien baffle, named after J. Phil Thien, the inventor. The two works on the same principle but the latter is low profile and easier to build.

I decided to build thien baffle. I read about and watch videos about it for three days. Then built one for about eight hours, using scrap plywood, pvc pipes and a bucket. It is low profile taking about three inches of a 5-gallon bucket. According to Phil Thien, his make is efficient with the bucket filled just below the baffle. My currently working cyclone is efficient with the bucket filled up to 3/4 volume.

thien baffle

I assumed I just built another husk collector for half the size with performance equal to the other.

I am quite happy with preliminary trial results.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

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