Concentrated Solar Drying - Post Harvest
(Tanzania and Nicaragua)
Many horticultural products currently go to waste during production periods due to their perishibility and an inability to adequately preserve them with available technologies. An estimated 50%-80% of fruits and vegetables produced in Tanzania, for example, are harvested at an economic loss, and potentially greater quality losses. Between harvest periods, the produce is in very limited supply and is expensive. A great deal of work has been done to develop small-scale, solar-powered food dryers that can be built with local materials. However, existing dryer designs are better suited to sunny, dry environments and have limited viability in tropical, cloudy, or hazy climates.
Working in partnership with the UC Davis Post-Harvest Technology Research Center-Extension and California Solar Collaborative, which received funding from the USAID Horticultural Collaborative, D-Lab teams are designing, building, and testing a solar food dryer prototype for use in Nicaragua and Tanzania. This concentrated solar powered dryer will serve to quickly and safely dry fresh food, particularly fruits and vegetables, in cloudy and hazy environments.
Our Nicaragua partners are Grupo Fenix (grupofenix.org), the Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa (mujeressolares.org), and the Renewable Energy Program of the National Engineering University in Managua (uni.edu.ni).
See student presentations, reports and notes from the field below: