Title of the Project: Performance enhanced natural convection solar dryer for fruits and fruit products
This project aims to address the challenges faced by small-scale fruit processing units, particularly those primarily run by women. These units produce value-added products using local fruits like jackfruit, banana, cassava, and coconut. However, the predominant method of open sun drying poses significant issues, leaving the dried products vulnerable to environmental factors such as rain, dust, and animal interference. This compromises the quality, rendering some products inedible and reducing their market value.
In an effort to mitigate these problems, the technical wing of our institution collaborates with these units to find technological solutions. It's been observed that the initial moisture content of agricultural products is a key factor in post-harvest losses. Although open sun drying is an age-old method that reduces moisture content and preserves products, it leaves them exposed to various risks.
The proposed solution is to enhance the performance of solar-based tunnel dryers. These dryers operate solely on solar energy, creating a controlled environment for drying produce. They promise reduced contamination, faster drying times, and maintenance of high-quality standards. The objective is to develop an enhanced natural convection solar dryer for fruits and vegetables.
This project aims to modify the existing tunnel dryer design by incorporating solar pre-heaters and chimneys, intending to improve the drying efficiency. Through these modifications, the performance of the dryer is expected to surpass both conventional drying methods and existing dryer designs. The goal is also to optimize design and installation parameters to maximize solar energy utilization.
The anticipated benefits of this project are substantial. The output will be an improved solar dryer that can significantly impact the operations of fruit processing units at the village level. The current methods used by women in these units are time-consuming and yield lower quality outputs. The introduction of this new technology promises cost-effective or even no-cost energy for drying, thereby enhancing the quality of the dried products, which, in turn, aids in further processing and value addition.
The plan is to produce these dryers at a lower cost and make them available to the beneficiaries on demand. The aim is to showcase this technology in villages, reducing the labor for workers, cutting energy expenses, and minimizing raw material damage. This introduction of solar dryers could potentially motivate small entrepreneurs to adopt the technology, amplifying its impact across various communities.
As a host agency, Miraniketan will take charge of producing and supplying these dryers on a non-profit basis, serving as a nodal agency for training and establishing enterprises. The primary stakeholders in this project are the women working in small production units, who stand to benefit significantly from this innovative technology, furthering the institution's role as a facilitator for their training and enterprise establishment.
Name of the Principal Investigator: Dr. Reghu Rama Das
Name of the Co-Principal Investigator: Adhin D
Project Achievements & Outcomes: