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In the citronella oil extraction process by steam distillation, inefficient use of steam is the main cause of excessive energy consumption that affects energy cost and oil yield. This research is aimed to reduce the energy cost and increase the oil yield by studying the steam used in the process. The proposed method is the three-stage extraction model combined with the Data Envelopment Analysis developed by Charnes, Cooper, and Rhodes (DEA-CCR model). Although the three-stage extraction model has been widely used, there is no research integrating this model with the DEA-CCR model. It is well known that the DEA-CCR model is an effective tool to evaluate the efficiency of decision-making units/alternatives. The advantages of this research were presented as the calculation of the optimum distillation conditions, including the steam flow rate and the distillation time, were achieved as discussed in this article. The study was comprised of 3 parts. Firstly, the three-stage extraction model for citronella oil was formulated. Secondly, the results of the proposed model were calculated under different conditions, classified by steam flow rates from 5,000 to 60,000 cm3/min for the distillation period of 15–180 min. Finally, the DEA-CCR model was utilized to evaluate and rank alternatives. The results expressed that the best condition for producing citronella oil was at the steam flow rate of 40,000 cm3/min and the distillation time of 60 min. The optimal energy cost and percentage of oil yield were equal to 0.440 kWh/mL and 0.7%, respectively. When comparing to the experimental results, the percentage error of optimal energy cost and oil yield were slightly different, with a value of 0.98% and 0.85%, respectively. Moreover, the energy consumption was also reduced by 34.6% compared to the traditional operating conditions.
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