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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.

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

Such fabrics are much easier to wash than the trays themselves (CIRAD.. Similarly. It is essential to use this. making sure that they are all square with the frame. Mosquito mesh is carefully fitted over the papyrus mat and attached with staples along all edges. Drying chamber rails The four longitudinal rail supports should be fitted to the main frame structure first. Whatever its length is in practice. the width of each tray should be 27. and may need to be imported. 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. 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. All 12 trays should be made exactly the same.will be cheaper and more available. The clear plastic should similarly be fitted to the inside with staples along all edges.5 in greater than the distance between the rails and again checked before cutting timber. Loading doors No dimensions are given since it is important for doors to fit closely into the drying chamber frame as made. 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. this width should be 1.5 in such that it will fit neatly on each pair of rails. Plastic mosquito mesh is cut to the size of the tray plus an allowance of I in overlap on all four sides. or other similar. the gap between each rail needs to be the same. Drying trays The trays should be fully interchangeable. which constitute part of the main structure. horticultural grade plastic sheeting which does not readily degrade in tropical sunlight. materials should normally be available locally. This is important as all 12 trays should be interchangeable and fit into any position. It is supported by two support rails running along the length of the frame. The four sets of double rails and six centre rails next. . it can be obtained from Fruits of the Nile Ltd as can the mosquito mesh. 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. It is then stapled in place onto the sides of the frame. Except for the clear plastic sheet. 2006). front and back. The air outlet ventilation gap is 4 in and should be covered with mosquito mesh on the inside. The hinges should be fitted to the door only at this stage. pers. this will make it easier to slide the trays in and out. In all cases. brass screws would last longer and would not rust. Any one can then fit into any one of the 12 possible positions which will make loading much easier. It is considerably more expensive than the ordinary polythenes normally sold. The trays should be glued and screwed at joints. The handle running the length of the door frame should be fitted about 8 in from the bottom. In Uganda. The trays are fitted with guide blocks which project 4 in below the frame. it must be identical to the length of the rails inside the drying chamber. The remaining four rails should now be fitted at the ends. This should be checked before any timber is cut to size. A current practice is to put a fabric that lets air pass through the trays. comm. The length of each tray is intended to be 56 in.

and a pdf file with materials [10] for construction. 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.The clear plastic sheet covering should now be fitted over the drying chamber frame and stapled in position. The completed dryer should be checked for overall stability. 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. The plastic sheeting will probably need to be completely replaced after two or three years. 6) Steel counter sunk screws 50 x 50mm (no. Main frame (timber. Also. Guidance on using the dryer and processing operations are given in the related technology record: Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro. and diagrams [9] of the modified Kawanda solar cabinet dryer. See also a set of illustrations [8] showing construction. It is better to double-over the edges which are to be stapled by 2 in so as to provide extra strength for fixing. The doors can now be fitted and the hinges screwed to the framework. 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. As timber dimensions will vary. 6) Papyrus as required. the dryer should last many years. Using the dryer If properly built. 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.and smallscale rural enterprise development: processing aspects'. 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 . 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. This should be carried out with care to avoid damaging the plastic. consideration should be given to variations when building the dryer. Materials for construction Lengths of timber required are listed below as a guide. Routine maintenance should be carried out regularly and tears or rips in the plastic covering should be quickly repaired as they will affect performance. If possible. when purchasing timber.3 in Total 162 ft 10 in Fittings and other materials Steel counter sunk screws 50 x 75mm (no. 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.

. References and further reading BRETT. (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. SIMMONS.R. Assembling of film has to be described well. G.S. lengths of 2 in x I in hardwood) Width members 24 x 25. . R.S. and ANSTEE. D. makes for slower drying on the lower tray because it does not receive the solar radiation.5 in x 56 in Counter sunk steel screws 40 x 50 mm (no. one above the other. D. even if it is essential for durability and performance. 10) PVA wood glue Risks Use of softwoods in tropical conditions gives a limited durability of the drier. 10) Screws to suit hinges 72 x 30 mm PVA wood glue Drying trays (timber. A.5 in Longitudinal members 24 x 56 in Timber. 10) Industrial tacks or staples PVA wood glue Loading doors (timber. Presence of two trays. COX. Adjustable opening sections would be useful.3 in Counter sunk screws 100 x 40 mm (no. Extraction of air from the drier is not controlled and depends on climatic conditions. TRIM. 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... 10) Counter sunk steel screws 48 x 25 mm (no.Fittings and other materials Plastic covering Visqueen clear 1 x 244 in x 92. 10) Counter sunk screws 50 x 20 mm (no. Quality of plastic film is not indicated.5 in Counter sunk steel screws 200 50mm (no.

UK. 30 pp. and ANSTEE. John Esser. Ken Campbell. please contact Karen Wilkin. R. University of Greenwich. Graham Farrell (Plant Clinic).and small-scale rural enterprise development. and ANSTEE.and small-scale rural enterprise development. A. Jody Sunley..(1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro. Handbook 4: Business Profitability.. SIMMONS. The application or use of treatments. For more information..S. Implementing and advising on this process were: Karen Wilkin and Tina Rowland (joint project leaders).. STEP (2005) An information guide to help build successful food businesses in Africa. Simon Eden-Green. COX. UK.and small-scale rural enterprise development. FAO?s Research and Technology Development Service.. G.S. BRETT. Liz McVeigh. SIMMONS. University of Greenwich. FAO?s LEAD programme. 34 pp.R.S. R. Validation domain reviewed by the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD).. processes and technologies is the sole responsibility of the user. Vino Graffham. D. UK. Natural Resources Institute. Liz Betser (360º Responsibility). SOURCE: UK Department For International Development (DFID) & Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) [13] . Simon Eden-Green and Peter Golob. COX. DFID?s Central Research Department. BRETT. D. Handbook 2: Dryer Construction.S. G. G.and small-scale rural enterprise development. TRIM.S. (1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro. D. NR International Ltd or Tina Rowland. 30 pp. COX. Uploading by Random X Solutions Ltd. http://www.R. with funding from DFID?s Central Research Department (Communications). Natural Resources [11] e-Resources NR INTERNATIONAL/TROPICAL WHOLEFOODS (2003) Breaking into mainstream food markets in the UK. Acknowledgements Technology selected and record compiled from original project documentation by Natural Resources International Ltd. UK. BRETT. RNRRS programme staff.S. D. for the benefit of developing countries. R. A. The views expressed are not necessarily those of [12] Health and safety The researchers. STEP Systems Ltd UK. (1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro. TRIM. their institutions or this website cannot be held responsible for any damage resulting from the use of the materials or methods described here. D. Handbook 1: Assessing Opportunities.... University of Greenwich.. www. Peter Golob. TRIM. Random X Solutions Ltd. Andy Frost. A. Handbook 3: Practical Aspects of Processing. University of Greenwich. 30 pp. D. and ANSTEE. Natural Resources Institute.R.stepsystems. DFID disclaimer This technology is an output from the Renewable Natural Resources Research strategy funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). (1996) Producing solar dried fruit and vegetables for micro... Natural Resources Institute. United Kingdom Source URL: [11] [4] [13] [3] [12] [5] http://teca.fao.fao.pdf [9] http://www.pdf [10] [6] [7] [2] Links: [1] [8] http://www.

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