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Dryer construction for solar-dried fruit and vegetables production
SUMMARY: The preservation of fruit and vegetables by simple sun drying is practised widely throughout arid and semiarid areas, for example in Uganda. The use of low cost, solar-drying technologies, can significantly improve product quality thereby providing practical opportunities for developing smallscale enterprise, particularly in rural areas, and creating employment for women's groups. The specifications and prices are for the Ugandan context in 1996. Users need to adapt their designs to local situations. KEYWORDS: Sun drying [1] Fruits [2] Vegetables [3] Uganda [4] Construction [5] CATEGORY: Capacity development [6] Post-harvest and marketing [7] COUNTRIES: Uganda DESCRIPTION: Introduction Experiences in Uganda have shown that there are circumstances where it is feasible to establish solar-drying operations as viable micro-enterprises in rural areas. Such operations require the dedication, patience and basic skills of all of those involved. Market channels also need to be developed, product quality controlled and technical assistance provided. An overall and integrated approach is essential if solar-drying activities are to be successful in rural development programmes. This is part of a series of four related technology records dealing with solar drying, and needs to be considered in conjunction with these other records: Assessing opportunities Dryer construction (this record) Practical aspects of processing Business profitability

Dryer design The dryer consists of a main frame, with eight supporting legs, incorporating the drying chamber. The drying chamber measures 176 in (4.4 m) long x 60 in (1.5 m) deep x 30 in (0.8 m) high overall and contains 12 trays to provide a total drying area of 100 ft² (10 m²) Depending upon the fruit or vegetable to be dried and upon the loading density used, it can dry between 20 kg and 35 kg of freshly cut produce over a period of 2 to 4 days.

each tier can accommodate six trays and these are supported on wooden rails. it may be that simpler ways can be found to construct joints. Otherwise. The timber lengths given are only a guide. loading doors and drying trays. it is advised not to change the basic design. It is likely that as more dryers are built. dryer performance. the dryer should be placed end-on to the wind. However. the number of trays used or the sizes of the air inlet and outlet vents without careful consideration and experimentation. This will reduce the cooling effect of the wind blowing directly into the drying chamber which would increase drying times. For instance. which can otherwise collect inside and thereby slow down the drying process. these slots are similarly covered with mosquito mesh. However. Timber used should be well seasoned.e. The dryer should be built in stages as follows: Stage 1: Making the main frame structure Stage 2: Making the drying chamber base Stage 3: Making the rails for the drying trays Stage 4: Making the loading doors Stage 5: Making the drying trays Stage 6: Fitting the plastic cover Stage 7: Checking the completed dryer. which is then covered over with mosquito mesh. air flow needs to be controlled and there should be no gaps. rails and support bars should be made from 2 in x 1 in hardwood to provide the strength and long-term durability needed. the drying trays. To operate effectively. The base of the drying chamber is a mat made from papyrus. particularly around the doors. In operation. Joints should be glued and screwed for maximum strength and durability. drying chamber. could be reduced. inverted cones nailed over the top of these will help prevent the cans from being filled with rain water. It also provides a barrier against insects and allows rainwater to easily drain away. the legs can be placed inside old cans filled with mineral or vegetable oil. and therefore profitability. the dryer should be sited in a flat area. Ventilation slots are built into the top of each of the loading doors and allow the warm moist air created to dissipate through natural convection. it will also reduce the likelihood of dust entering the chamber and contaminating the products. the overall dimensions of the dryer. The dimensions of timber available are likely to vary and practical account needs to be taken of this when building the dryer. Any alterations of this nature require technical assessment. The trays consist of a hardwood frame across which is stapled plastic mosquito mesh onto which are placed the slices of fruit for drying. This arrangement allows air to filter through and enter the chamber from underneath and through the trays of sliced fruit. unobscured by trees or buildings so that it is fully exposed to the sun throughout the day. If the wind blows predominantly from one direction. Building the dryer The dryer has four main parts: main frame. i. There are three hinged doors at the front of the chamber to provide access for loading and unloading of the drying trays. of uniform thickness and straight. To deter termite and insect attack.The dryer is constructed from 2 in x 2 in softwood. The dryer performance could also be affected if a different grade of clear plastic covering is used. where insects may enter or air escape. Such changes are quite acceptable and should be encouraged if it improves the design. to fit the mosquito mesh or to improve cleaning. This is why key dimensions only have been given. There are two tiers of trays. The doors should be close fitting and strips cut (using the same material as that used for the main cover) and stapled to the doors to provide seals. Whilst steel screws . variations to the design will emerge. perhaps also by reducing the overall cost of the dryer or increasing its life.

front and back. The trays should be glued and screwed at joints.. Loading doors No dimensions are given since it is important for doors to fit closely into the drying chamber frame as made. Completing dryer construction The dryer should now be moved to its final position with the traps fitted to the legs to deter termite and insect attack. comm. Except for the clear plastic sheet. it must be identical to the length of the rails inside the drying chamber.5 in such that it will fit neatly on each pair of rails. The remaining four rails should now be fitted at the ends. It is essential to use this. Mosquito mesh is carefully fitted over the papyrus mat and attached with staples along all edges. It is considerably more expensive than the ordinary polythenes normally sold. Such fabrics are much easier to wash than the trays themselves (CIRAD. A current practice is to put a fabric that lets air pass through the trays. Similarly. In Uganda. The four sets of double rails and six centre rails next. this width should be 1. pers. this will make it easier to slide the trays in and out. This should be checked before any timber is cut to size. . Any one can then fit into any one of the 12 possible positions which will make loading much easier.5 in greater than the distance between the rails and again checked before cutting timber. and may need to be imported. The clear plastic should similarly be fitted to the inside with staples along all edges. making sure that they are all square with the frame. Whatever its length is in practice. or other similar. the gap between each rail needs to be the same. The clear sheet is a special heavy duty plastic sheeting 'Visqueen' which remains reasonably durable under the harmful effects of the relatively high levels of ultraviolet light. the width of each tray should be 27. 2006). Drying trays The trays should be fully interchangeable. materials should normally be available locally. This is important as all 12 trays should be interchangeable and fit into any position. which constitute part of the main structure. The trays are fitted with guide blocks which project 4 in below the frame. Drying chamber rails The four longitudinal rail supports should be fitted to the main frame structure first. The hinges should be fitted to the door only at this stage. The handle running the length of the door frame should be fitted about 8 in from the bottom. Plastic mosquito mesh is cut to the size of the tray plus an allowance of I in overlap on all four sides. It is then stapled in place onto the sides of the frame. it can be obtained from Fruits of the Nile Ltd as can the mosquito mesh. The air outlet ventilation gap is 4 in and should be covered with mosquito mesh on the inside. It is supported by two support rails running along the length of the frame. All 12 trays should be made exactly the same. Drying chamber base The base consists of a mat made from papyrus which is firmly fitted across the width of the dryer and along its length. horticultural grade plastic sheeting which does not readily degrade in tropical sunlight. In all cases. This makes it possible to limit the down time of the trays at the end of the drying for the collection of dried fruits and necessary washing of the trays. The length of each tray is intended to be 56 in. brass screws would last longer and would not rust.will be cheaper and more available.

lengths of 2 in x 2 in softwood) Legs (front) 4 x 54 in Legs (rear) 4 x 48 in Cross members (lower) 4 x 60 in Longitudinal bars (short) 6 x 60 in Longitudinal bars (top) 2 x 176 in Longitudinal bars (floor support) 2 x 176 in Cross members (top) 4 x 60. the dryer should be protected in periods of bad weather or when not in use by using a locally-designed portable thatched cover as this will help to prolong the dryer?s life. allowance should be made for splits and faults in the timber so that additional amounts will be required as these will need to be cut out.3 in Total 162 ft 10 in Fittings and other materials Steel counter sunk screws 50 x 75mm (no. Guidance on using the dryer and processing operations are given in the related technology record: Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro. 6) Steel counter sunk screws 50 x 50mm (no. The doors can now be fitted and the hinges screwed to the framework. Routine maintenance should be carried out regularly and tears or rips in the plastic covering should be quickly repaired as they will affect performance. 6) Papyrus as required. the dryer should last many years.The clear plastic sheet covering should now be fitted over the drying chamber frame and stapled in position. It is better to double-over the edges which are to be stapled by 2 in so as to provide extra strength for fixing. Main frame (timber. lengths of 2 in x 1 in hardwood) Tray rails 18 x 56 in Tray rail support bars 4 x 176 in Total 142 ft 8 in . Using the dryer If properly built. and diagrams [9] of the modified Kawanda solar cabinet dryer. consideration should be given to variations when building the dryer. 172 in x 56 in Mosquito mesh (air inlet) 1 x 176 in x 60 in Termite traps 8 cans PVA wood glue Drying chamber (timber. As timber dimensions will vary. The top edges of the strips of plastic are stapled to the frame so as to cover over the hinges and provide a form of seal. ease of loading and unloading of the trays (which should fit in any position) and the opening and closing of the doors (which must operate freely) The dryer should be fully insect proof before use and any gaps sealed. If possible. when purchasing timber. Also. The plastic sheeting will probably need to be completely replaced after two or three years.and smallscale rural enterprise development: processing aspects'. and a pdf file with materials [10] for construction. The completed dryer should be checked for overall stability. See also a set of illustrations [8] showing construction. Materials for construction Lengths of timber required are listed below as a guide. This should be carried out with care to avoid damaging the plastic.

10) Screws to suit hinges 72 x 30 mm PVA wood glue Drying trays (timber.Fittings and other materials Plastic covering Visqueen clear 1 x 244 in x 92.5 in Counter sunk steel screws 200 50mm (no. G. one above the other. Presence of two trays. A. (lengths of 2 in x 2 in hardwood) Guide blocks 48 x 4 in Total 16 ft Fittings and other materials Plastic mosquito mesh 12 x 58 in x 29. TRIM. lengths of 2 in x I in hardwood) Width members 24 x 25.5 in x 56 in Counter sunk steel screws 40 x 50 mm (no. lengths of 2 in x 2 in softwood) Longitudinal bars 12 x 56 in Upright bars 6 x 26 in Intermediate upright bars 3 x 20 in Total 74 ft Fittings and other materials Plastic covering: Visqueen clear 3 x 56 in x 20 in Plastic mosquito mesh (air outlets) 3 x 56 in x 6 in Steel hinges 9 x 75 mm x 25 mm Hinge-door seals: Visqueen clear 3 x 2.S. COX.. 10) Counter sunk screws 50 x 20 mm (no. makes for slower drying on the lower tray because it does not receive the solar radiation. SIMMONS.5 in Longitudinal members 24 x 56 in Timber. Quality of plastic film is not indicated. R. . D.3 in Counter sunk screws 100 x 40 mm (no. 10) Counter sunk steel screws 48 x 25 mm (no.. Extraction of air from the drier is not controlled and depends on climatic conditions. 10) Industrial tacks or staples PVA wood glue Loading doors (timber.. and ANSTEE. Adjustable opening sections would be useful. even if it is essential for durability and performance. Assembling of film has to be described well.S. 10) PVA wood glue Risks Use of softwoods in tropical conditions gives a limited durability of the drier. References and further reading BRETT. D.R.

COX.S.(1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro. D. Liz Betser (360º Responsibility). COX. BRETT. A. Andy Frost.. D.S.and small-scale rural enterprise development. John Esser. DFID?s Central Research Department. (1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro. R. and ANSTEE. Jody Sunley. University of Greenwich.. Natural Resources Institute. SIMMONS. and ANSTEE.. FAO?s LEAD programme..R. DFID disclaimer This technology is an output from the Renewable Natural Resources Research strategy funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). FAO?s Research and Technology Development Service. Handbook 4: Business Profitability. Liz McVeigh. R.. UK. Simon Eden-Green. UK. Uploading by Random X Solutions Ltd. The views expressed are not necessarily those of DFID. Ken Campbell. 34 pp. SOURCE: UK Department For International Development (DFID) & Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) [13] . Natural Resources Institute. Vino Graffham. RNRRS programme staff.com [12] Health and safety The researchers. NR International Ltd or Tina Rowland. G. Validation domain reviewed by the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD). please contact Karen Wilkin. Peter Golob.and small-scale rural enterprise development. with funding from DFID?s Central Research Department (Communications). processes and technologies is the sole responsibility of the user. TRIM... Random X Solutions Ltd.S. www. The application or use of treatments.. their institutions or this website cannot be held responsible for any damage resulting from the use of the materials or methods described here. Handbook 3: Practical Aspects of Processing. SIMMONS. STEP Systems Ltd UK. Natural Resources Institute. for the benefit of developing countries.R. 30 pp.S. TRIM. Simon Eden-Green and Peter Golob.S. Acknowledgements Technology selected and record compiled from original project documentation by Natural Resources International Ltd. D. D. G.tropicalwholefoods.. UK.and small-scale rural enterprise development. Handbook 2: Dryer Construction. Implementing and advising on this process were: Karen Wilkin and Tina Rowland (joint project leaders). University of Greenwich. D. UK. SIMMONS. University of Greenwich. http://www. A. BRETT. (1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro.R. TRIM. (1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro.. D. STEP (2005) An information guide to help build successful food businesses in Africa... A.stepsystems. and ANSTEE.co. Natural Resources Institute. 30 pp.S. G. For more information.and small-scale rural enterprise development. BRETT. R. Handbook 1: Assessing Opportunities. 30 pp. Graham Farrell (Plant Clinic). University of Greenwich. COX.uk [11] e-Resources NR INTERNATIONAL/TROPICAL WHOLEFOODS (2003) Breaking into mainstream food markets in the UK.

org/keywords/sun-drying [2] http://teca.fao.org/docs/eims/upload/agrotech/1948/dryer-diagrams.pdf [11] http://www.pdf [9] http://www.fao.fao.stepsystems.org/technology-categories/capacity-development [7] http://teca.Country: United Kingdom Source URL: http://teca.fao.tropicalwholefoods.org/partner/uk-department-international-development-dfid-food-and-agricultureorganization-united .org/keywords/construction-0 [6] http://teca.fao.org/docs/eims/upload/agrotech/1948/dryer-images.fao.com/ [13] http://teca.org/technology/dryer-construction-solar-dried-fruit-and-vegetables-production Links: [1] http://teca.uk/ [12] http://www.pdf [10] http://www.fao.org/technology-categories/post-harvest-and-marketing [8] http://www.org/keywords/fruits-0 [3] http://teca.org/keywords/vegetables [4] http://teca.fao.co.fao.fao.org/docs/eims/upload/agrotech/1948/manual2-materials.org/keywords/uganda-0 [5] http://teca.fao.fao.