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R. Smitabhindu

a,

, S. Janjai

b

, V. Chankong

c

a

Department of Industrial Engineering, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

b

Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Silpakorn University, Nakhon Pathom 73000, Thailand

c

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA

Received 26 March 2007; accepted 18 September 2007

Available online 19 November 2007

Abstract

This paper presents a mathematical model for optimal design of a solar-assisted drying system for drying bananas. The optimization

model consists of a simulation model of a solar-assisted drying system combined with an economic model. The simulation model is

composed of two systems of differential equations: one for the collector and other for the drying cabinet. These systems of the differential

equation were solved using the nite difference method. Values of the model parameters were determined experimentally. A computer

program in FORTRAN was developed to simulate the performance of the drying system. The model was validated by comparing the

simulation results with the experimental results and they were in good agreement. This simulation model was used for the optimization of

the solar-assisted drying system. An economic model was formulated to calculate the annual drying cost. The optimization problem was

dened as the optimization of the geometry and operational parameters of the drying system so as to minimize the drying cost per unit of

dried product. Currently used collector area and the air recycle factor were considered as the parameters for basic mode of operation of

the drying system. The adaptive pattern search technique was adopted to nd the optimum values of the solar collector area and the

recycle factor. The optimum values of the collector area and the recycle factor were found to be 26 m

2

and 90%, respectively. The

computer program developed in this study can be used to optimize similar drying systems.

r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Solar collector; Solar drying; Banana; Simulation; Optimization

1. Introduction

Bananas are a potential cash crop in Thailand and dried

banana is a popular snack food in this country. Huge

amount of bananas are consumed in every part of

Thailand. There is a bright future for dried bananas for

both internal consumption and export. The international

market can also be promoted with dried bananas if

the quality of the dried bananas can be maintained at

international standard. However, most of bananas in

Thailand are dried with the natural sun drying and dried

bananas are usually contaminated by insects.

The problem of drying bananas can be solved by using

solar drying technology. This is to due the fact that dried

bananas production areas are usually situated in tropical

regions with receive abundant of solar radiation. Recently,

a solar-assisted fruit drying system have been developed in

a collaborative research between Innotech Company,

Germany and the Royal Chitralada Project of the King

of Thailand. This drying system is now used to produce

dried bananas for the demonstration purpose at the Royal

Chitralada Projects in Bangkok, Thailand. As the system

has been designed for drying general fruits and the design

parameters are not optimal for drying bananas, it is

necessary to optimize these design parameters.

Solar drying systems must be properly designed in order

to meet particular drying requirements of specic products

and to give satisfactory performance with respect to

requirements. Designers should investigate the basic

parameters such as collector area, drying air recirculation

factor and product quality. However, full scale experiments

for different products, drying seasons and system cong-

urations are sometime costly and may not be feasible.

A simulation model is a valuable tool for predicting the

dryer performance and it is also least costly and less time

ARTICLE IN PRESS

www.elsevier.com/locate/renene

0960-1481/$ - see front matter r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.renene.2007.09.021

E-mail address: sermjanjai@yahoo.co.th (R. Smitabhindu).

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Nomenclature

A

c

collector area (m

2

)

A

max

maximum limit of collector area (m

2

)

C

b

specic heat of the absorber (J/kg-K)

C

c

specic heat of the cover (J/kg-K)

C

f

specic heat of the air (J/kg-K)

C

p

specic heat of the product (J/kg-K)

C

T

total cost (USD)

C

v

specic heat of vapor (J/kg-K)

C

w

specic heat of water (J/kg-K)

C

annual

annual cost (USD/yr)

C

cabinet

cost of the dryer cabinet (USD)

C

capital

total capital cost (USD)

C

collector

collector cost (USD)

C

electric

cost of the electricity consumption (USD/kWh)

C

gas

cost of gas consumption per year (USD)

C

labor

costs of construction and installation (USD)

C

labor,op

labor cost for operating the dryer (USD)

C

maint

maintenance cost (USD)

C

maint,i

maintenance cost in the ith year (USD)

C

op

operating cost of the dryer (USD)

C

op,i

operating cost in the ith year (USD)

C

unit,col

unit cost of the solar collector (USD/m

2

)

C

unit,elect

unit cost of the electricity (USD/kWh)

C

unit,gas

unit cost of the gas (USD/kg)

D

c

distance between the cover and the absorber of

the collector (m)

D

t

height of the gap between the trays (m)

D

h

hydraulic diameter (m)

G specic mass ow rate of the air in the collector

(kg/s-m

2

)

h

1

enthalpy of the air from the collector (J/kg)

h

2

enthalpy of the recycle air (J/kg)

h

3

enthalpy of the air to the drying chamber (J/kg)

h

fg

latent heat of vaporization (J/kg)

h

w,ca

convective heat loss coefcient of the cover

caused by wind (W/m

2

-K)

h

c,bf

convective heat transfer coefcient between the

absorber and the air in the collector (W/m

2

-K)

h

c,cf

convective heat transfer coefcient between the

cover and the air in the collector (W/m

2

-K)

h

c,fc

convective heat transfer coefcient between the

air in the collector and the cover (W/m

2

-K)

h

c,pf

convective heat transfer coefcient between the

product and the drying air (W/m

2

-K)

h

c,fb

convective heat transfer coefcient between the

air in the collector and the absorber (W/m

2

-K)

h

r,bc

radiative heat transfer coefcient between the

cover and the absorber (W/m

2

-K)

h

r,cs

radiative heat transfer coefcient between the

cover and the sky (W/m

2

-K)

H humidity ratio of the drying air (dimensionless)

H

1

humidity ratio of the air from the collector

(dimensionless)

H

2

humidity ratio of the recycle air (dimensionless)

H

3

humidity ratio of the air to the drying chamber

(dimensionless)

i

f

ination rate (decimal)

i

in

interest rate (decimal)

I

t

solar radiation incident on the collector (W/m

2

)

k thermal conductivity of the air (W/m1C)

_ m

1

mass ow rate of the air from the collector

(kg/s)

_ m

2

mass ow rate of the recycle air (kg/s)

_ m

3

mass ow rate of the air to the drying chamber

(kg/s)

M moisture of the product at time t

(kg

water

/kg

solid

)

M

e

equilibrium moisture content (kg

water

/kg

solid

)

M

0

initial moisture content (kg

water

/kg

solid

)

M

dry product

amount of dried products obtained from

the system per year (kg)

M

elect

amount of the electricity consumption per year

(kWh/yr)

M

gas

amount of gas consumption per year (kg)

N life span of the dryer (years)

Nu Nusselt number (dimensionless)

rh relative humidity of the air (%)

R

c

recycle factor (%)

Re Reynolds number (dimensionless)

R

max

maximum limit of the recycle factor (%)

t drying time (s)

T temperature of the drying air (K)

T

a

temperature of ambient air (K)

T

b

temperature of the absorber (K)

T

c

temperature of the cover (K)

T

f

temperature of the air in the collector (K)

T

f

temperature of the drying air (K)

T

p

temperature of the product (K)

T

s

sky temperature (K)

U

b

heat loss coefcient through the back side of

the collector to ambient air (W/m

2

-K)

V speed of the air in the collector (m/s)

W

c

width of the collector (m)

W

t

width of tray (m)

x distance (m)

a

c

absortance of the cover (dimensionless)

r

f

density of the air (kg/m

3

)

r

b

density of the absorber (kg/m

3

)

r

c

density of the cover (kg/m

3

)

r

s,p

density of product (kg/m

3

)

e

b

emittance of the absorber (dimensionless)

e

c

emittance of the cover (dimensionless)

s StefanBoltzmann constant (W/m

2

-K

4

)

d

b

thickness of the absorber (m)

d

c

thickness of the cover (m)

n viscosity of the air (m

2

/s)

(ta) transmittanceabsorptance product of the sys-

tem consisting of the cover and the absorber

(dimensionless)

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1524

consuming. Again, the simulation model is essential to

optimize the dryer component and drying process, and

optimization techniques can be used for optimal design of

solar drying systems [1,2].

Several studies have been reported on the optimization

of natural convection and forced convection solar drying

systems [37]. Very few studies have been carried out for

simulation and optimization of solar-assisted drying system

for tropical fruits. The purposes of this study are to

formulate a mathematical model of a solar-assisted drying

system and to use this model to optimize the design

parameters of the system for drying bananas.

2. Description of the system

The solar-assisted forced convection drying system has

been installed at the Royal Chitralada Projects, Dusit

Palace in Bangkok, Thailand to demonstrate the potenti-

ality of solar-assisted convection dryer for production of

quality dried fruits. This drying system has a capacity of

drying 250 kg of bananas and it is being used for drying

bananas since the year 2000.

This drying system consists of two main parts namely:

(1) the solar collector, and (2) the drying cabinet (Fig. 1).

The solar collector is placed on the rooftop of the drying

building and the drying cabinet is inside this building. The

solar collector consists of polyurethane back insulator and

cover glass. There is an air gap between the cover glass and

the insulator through which ambient air is sucked from both

ends of the roofs through the collectors. The air is sucked at

the midpoint of the collector and supplied into the drying

cabinet with an auxiliary heat source using an LPG gas

burner. Each part of the collector was designed with a

modular concept. The parts of the collector such as

insulation and cover glass are in modular form so that

these can be easily transported and connected to each other.

The drying cabinet is a tray type and accommodates 15

trays in stacks with a total drying area of 8 m

2

and the

dimension of a tray is 1 m2 m1.5 m. This drying

cabinet has been specially designed in such a way that hot

air is guided to ow parallel through the products placed in

the trays in the stacks. This design has the advantage that

air temperatures in the cabinet are uniform. Ambient air

preheated by solar collector is sucked by an electrical

blower and additional heat if needed, is supplied by an

LPG gas burner. Then heated air is supplied to the cabinet.

The picture of the solar collector and the drying cabinet are

depicted in Fig. 2.

The ambient air from both ends of the collector is sucked

by the blower to move through the air gap of the collector.

The collector receives the energy from solar radiation and

heats air inside the collector. The polyurethane back

insulator is used to reduce heat loss. The hot air from the

solar collector is moved through the air duct to the LPG gas

burner placed on the top of the cabinet. This air is heated up

again by the gas burner if needed and forced to the drying

cabinet for drying the product. Part of this drying air is

recycled and circulated in the cabinet to save energy and the

other part of this air is released to ambient surroundings.

ARTICLE IN PRESS

LPG gas burner

Door

Air flap

Tray

m

3

, H

3

.

Exhausted Air

Blower

H

x

T

f

Insulator

Cover glass Solar collector

x

Bananas

60C

dx

dH

H

x

+ x

dx

dT

T

f

+ x

m

2

, H

2

.

m

1

, H

1

.

Drying cabinet

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of the solar-assisted drying system.

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1525

3. Modeling of the solar-assisted drying system

3.1. Solar collector

Considering an element dx of collector at a distance x

from the inlet as shown in Fig. 3. Energy balances on the

collector components give the following equations:

3.1.1. Cover of the collector

The heat balance in the element (x, x+dx) with the width

of the cover of W

c

in time Dt yields the following equation:

r

c

d

c

DxW

c

C

c

T

c

dT

c

dt

Dt

_ _

r

c

d

c

DxW

c

C

c

T

c

h

c;fc

DxW

c

T

f

T

c

Dt h

r;bc

DxW

c

T

b

T

c

Dt

h

w;ca

DxW

c

T

a

T

c

Dt h

r;cs

DxW

c

T

s

T

c

Dt

DxW

c

a

c

I

t

Dt. 1

This equation can be expressed as

r

c

d

c

C

c

dT

c

dt

h

r;bc

T

b

T

c

h

c;fc

T

f

T

c

h

w;ca

T

a

T

c

h

r;cs

T

s

T

c

a

c

I

t

.

2

3.1.2. Air in the collector

The heat balance in the air inside the collector in the

element (x, x+dx) yields

D

c

GW

c

C

f

T

f

dT

f

dx

Dx

_ _

Dt D

c

GW

c

C

f

C

f

HT

f

Dt

DxWh

c;fc

T

c

T

f

Dt DxW

c

h

c;bf

T

b

T

f

Dt.

3

This equation can be rewritten as

D

c

GC

f

dT

f

dx

h

c;cf

T

c

T

f

h

c;bf

T

b

T

f

. (4)

3.1.3. Absorber of the collector

The heat balance in the element (x, x+dx) of the

absorber and of width W in time Dt also yields the

equation:

r

b

DxW

c

d

b

C

b

T

b

dT

b

dt

Dt

_ _

r

b

DxW

c

d

b

C

b

T

b

h

c;fb

DxW

c

T

f

T

b

Dt h

r;bc

DxW

c

T

c

T

b

Dt

u

b

DxW

c

T

a

T

b

Dt DxW

c

taI

t

Dt. 5

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Fig. 2. Picture of the drying cabinet inside the building (a) and the solar collector on the roof of the same building (b).

Convection

Radiation

Air inlet

Absorber

Back insulator

x dx

Glass cover

h

r, cs

h

r, bc

h

w, ca

h

c, cf

h

c, bf

T

a

T

c

T

f

T

b

Conduction

Fig. 3. Schematic diagram showing heat transfers in the solar collector.

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1526

This equation can be rearranged as

r

b

d

b

c

b

dT

b

dt

h

c;bf

T

f

T

b

h

r;bc

T

c

T

b

U

b

T

a

T

b

taI

t

. 6

Radiation heat transfer coefcient, h

r,cs

between the

cover and the sky is given as [8]:

h

r;cs

c

sT

2

c

T

2

s

T

c

T

s

, (7)

and T

s

0:552T

1:5

a

.

The radiative heat transfer coefcient, h

r,bc

between the

cover and the absorber is [8]

h

r;bc

sT

2

b

T

2

c

T

b

T

c

c

1

. (8)

Convective heat transfer coefcient, h

w,ca

at the upper

surface of the cover from ambient air is computed from the

following equation [8,9]:

h

w;ca

5:7 3:8V. (9)

The convective heat transfer in the inner surface of

the cover from the air inside the collector is computed

from the following correlation suggested by Kays and

Crawford [10]:

Nu 0:0158Re

0:8

. (10)

The Reynolds number is given by

Re

D

h

Vr

f

n

. (11)

The hydraulic diameter, D

h

is computed from the

relationship

D

h

4W

c

D

c

2W

c

D

c

. (12)

The convective heat transfer coefcient, h

c

,

bf

is

computed from Nusselt number Nu obtained from

Eq. (10), hydraulic diameter (D

h

) from Eq. (12) and the

heat transfer coefcient, h

c,bf

from the following equation:

h

c;bf

Nuk

D

h

. (13)

The value of h

c,cf

was assumed to be equal to h

c,bf

because of the similarity of the materials and geometry of

media: air-cover and absorber-air.

3.2. Method of solution for the collector model

The collector model (Eqs. (2), (4) and (6)) is a system of

differential equations which are difcult to solve using

analytical method. This system of equations was solved

implicitly using the nite difference method. The system of

equations in the nite difference form is as follows:

Equation for the cover

r

c

d

c

C

c

T

c;tDt

T

c;t

Dt

h

r;bc

T

b;tDt

T

c;tDt

h

c;fc

T

f;tDt

T

c;tDt

h

w;ca

T

a;tDt

T

c;tDt

h

r;cs

T

s;tDt

T

c;tDt

a

c

I

t;tDt

. 14

Equation for the air

DGC

f

0:5

T

f;xDx;tDt

T

f;xDx;tDt

2Dx

T

f;xDx;t

T

f;xDx;t

2Dx

_ _

h

c;bf

T

b;x;tDt

T

f;x;tDt

h

c;cf

T

c;x;tDt

T

f;x;tDt

.

15

Equation for the absorber

r

b

d

b

C

b

T

b;tDt

T

b;t

Dt

h

c;bf

T

f;tDt

T

b;tDt

h

r;bc

T

c;tDt

T

b;tDt

U

b

T

a;tDt

T

b;tDt

htaiI

t;tDt

. 16

The length of the collector was divided into a number

of sections so that the properties of the material are

nearly constant within each section. The time interval

should be small enough for the air conditions to be

constant at the inlet to and exit from the section. But for

the economy of computing time, a compromise between

the acceptability of the results and the intervals must be

used.

The system of equations consisting of Eqs. (14)(16) is

expressed in the following form for the interval Dt for the

entire length of collector unit:

a

11

a

12

a

13

a

21

a

22

a

23

a

31

a

32

a

33

_

_

_

_

T

c

T

f

T

b

_

_

_

_

b

1

b

2

b

3

_

_

_

_. (17)

This system of equations is a set of implicit equations for

the time interval Dt for the entire length of the drying unit

and was solved using the GaussJordan elimination

method.

3.3. Formulation of the model for the drying cabinet

The bananas were placed in a single layer in a series of

trays, which are parallel (Fig. 1) and the bananas in the

trays almost equally exposed to a uniform temperature and

ARTICLE IN PRESS

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1527

only thin layer equation is sufcient to describe the drying

behavior inside the dryer.

3.3.1. Energy balance of the drying air

The change in enthalpy of the drying air is equal to the

convective heat transfer to the product:

D

t

GW

t

C

f

C

v

H T

f

dT

f

dx

Dx

_ _

Dt

D

t

GW

t

C

f

C

v

HT

f

Dt

DxW

t

h

c;pf

T

p

T

f

Dt. 18

This equation can be rewritten as

D

t

GC

f

C

v

H

dT

f

dx

h

c;pf

T

p

T

f

. (19)

3.3.2. Energy balance of the product inside the drying

cabinet

The change in enthalpy of the product is equal to the

convective heat transfer to the product minus heat supplied

to evaporate the moisture to the air. This energy balance

yields:

DxW

t

r

s;p

C

p

C

w

M T

p

dT

p

dt

Dt

_ _

DxW

t

r

s;p

C

p

C

w

MT

p

h

fg

D

t

G

dH

dx

DxDt C

v

T

f

T

p

D

t

G

dH

dx

DxDt DxW

t

h

c;pf

T

f

T

p

Dt. 20

This equation can be rearranged as

r

s;p

C

p

C

w

M

dT

p

dt

h

fg

C

w

T

p

T

f

D

t

G

dH

dx

h

c;pf

T

f

T

p

. 21

3.3.3. Moisture balance of the air

Moisture balance states that the moisture gain by the air

is equal to the moisture loss by the product:

D

t

GW

t

Dt H

dH

dx

Dx

_ _

D

t

GW

t

DtH

r

s;p

DxW

t

M r

s;p

DxW

t

M

dM

dt

Dt

_ _

. 22

Rearrangement of this equation yields

D

t

G

dH

dx

r

s;p

dM

dt

. (23)

3.3.4. Moisture balance of the product to be dried

The moisture content of the product was expressed by an

appropriate thin layer equation and the following empirical

equation was tted to experimental data [11]:

M M

e

M

0

M

e

Ae

Bt

, (24)

where the constant A and B were expressed as functions of

relative humidity (rh) in percent and temperature (T) in 1C

in the following form:

A a

0

a

1

rh a

2

Tt a

3

rh

2

a

4

T

2

, (25)

B b

0

b

1

rh b

2

T b

3

rh

2

b

4

T

2

, (26)

where a and b are empirical constants [11]

3.3.5. Recirculation

A part of the exhaust air from the dryer was recycled and

this amount was xed by design. The original design is for

a recirculation factor of 95%. The humidity and the

enthalpy of the mixed air are computed from the following

equations:

_ m

3

_ m

1

_ m

2

, (27)

_ m

3

H

3

_ m

1

H

1

_ m

2

H

2

, (28)

_ m

3

h

3

_ m

1

h

1

_ m

2

h

2

. (29)

3.4. Method of solution for the drying cabinet model

The banana bed was divided into a number of sections

(x j Dx, j 1, 2, 3, y) along the length of the drying

trays. The drying time was also divided into a number of

intervals (t i Dt, i 1, 2, 3, y). On the basis of the air

temperature, relative humidity and airow at the entry of

the drying cabinet, the drying constant (B) and equilibrium

moisture content (M

e

) of the banana were computed.

Using these B and M

e

values, the changes of moisture

content of bananas, DM, for a time interval, Dt, were

calculated using Eq. (24). Using the recent value of air

temperature and drying rate, the product temperature of

rst section of the drying trays was computed using

Eq. (21). On the basis of the recent value of product

temperature, the air temperature inside the rst section was

estimated using Eq. (19). The change in air humidity was

computed using Eq. (23). This process was repeated

section-by-section until the end of the section was reached.

This process was then repeated for each time increment.

When air relative humidity exceeds 99%, the condensation

routine deposits back the moisture from the over saturated

air. Air and banana temperature were adjusted for this

condensation [12]. The numerical solution was pro-

grammed in FORTRAN language.

4. Model validation

To build up condence in the models, drying experi-

ments were carried out using the drying system and

the experimental results were compared with simulated

ARTICLE IN PRESS

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1528

results. The measured collector outlet air temperatures

were compared with the simulated results. Fig. 4 shows

that the patterns of the variations of the simulated

temperatures agree well with those of the measured

temperatures.

The measured moisture contents of bananas were also

compared with the simulated moisture contents. Fig. 5

shows that the simulated moisture contents agree well with

the measured results. This simulation model will be used

for the optimization of the dryer components and drying

process.

5. Economic model of the solar-assisted drying system

The various cost of drying system was estimated based

on the real cost of the construction and operation of this

drying system because the system has been used since the

year 2000. The capital cost of the system consists of

the cost of the collector, drying cabinet and labor cost for

the construction and installation. The capital cost of this

drying system is listed as follows:

Solar collector

Drying cabinet

Labor (construction and installation)

2000 USD

2833 USD

500 USD

(1 USD 40 Bahts)

The collector material costs are those for glass and

polyurethane back insulator. The drying cabinet material

costs are those for the trays, LPG burner, air duct, blower,

system control, insulation materials and structural materials.

The cost of the collector (C

collector

) can be expressed as

C

collector

C

unit;col

A

c

, (30)

where C

unit, col

is the unit cost of the collector and A

c

is the

collector area.

The total capital cost for the solar-assisted drying system

(C

T

) is given by next equation

C

T

C

collector

C

f

, (31)

where C

f

is the material cost of the drying cabinet and the

labor cost for construction and installation.

The annual cost calculation method proposed by

Audsley and Wheeler [13] yields:

C

annual

C

T

N

i1

C

maint;i

C

op;i

o

i

_ _

o 1

oo

N

1

_ _

,

(32)

where C

annual

is the annual cost of the system. C

maint,i

and

C

op,i

are the maintenance cost and the operating cost at the

year i, respectively. o is expressed as

o 100 i

in

=100 i

f

, (33)

ARTICLE IN PRESS

0

20

40

60

80

100

8:00 11:00 14:00 17:00 8:00 11:00 14:00 17:00 8:00 11:00 14:00 17:00

Time, hr

T

e

m

p

e

r

a

t

u

r

e

,

C

Measurement

Simulation at R = 95 %

9 October, 2003 10 October, 2003 11 October, 2003

Fig. 4. Predicted and observed variation in the collector temperature.

0.0

1.0

2.0

3.0

4.0

8:00 11:00 14:00 17:00 8:00 11:00 14:00 17:00 8:00 11:00 14:00 17:00

Time, hr

M

o

i

s

t

u

r

e

c

o

n

t

e

n

t

,

d

b

Measurement

Simulation at R = 95 %

9 October, 2003

10 October, 2003 11 October, 2003

Fig. 5. Simulated and observed moisture content of bananas for the drying test.

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1529

where i

in

and i

f

are the interest rate and the ination rate,

respectively.

The maintenance cost of the rst year was assumed to be

1% of the capital cost.

The operating cost consists of the gas consumption cost

(C

gas

), electricity consumption cost (C

electric

) and the labor

cost for operating the system (C

labor,op

). This cost can be

written as follows:

C

op

C

gas

C

electric

C

labor;op

. (34)

The cost of the gas consumption is calculated as follows:

C

gas

C

unit;gas

M

gas

, (35)

where C

unit,gas

is the unit cost of the gas and M

gas

is the

mass of the gas used per year.

The cost of the electricity consumption can be calculated

as

C

electric

C

unit;elect

M

elect

, (36)

where C

electric

is the unit cost of the electricity and M

electric

is the amount of the electricity used per year.

The annual cost per unit of dried product is called the

drying cost (Z). It can be written as

Z

C

annual

M

dry product

, (37)

where M

dry product

is the dried product obtained from this

drying system per year.

Now the optimization of the system component and

recycle factor can be stated mathematically as

Minimize Z

C

T

N

i1

C

maint;i

C

op;i

o

i

_ _

o1

oo

N

1

_ _

M

dry product

,

(38)

subject to the constraints

0pA

c

pA

max

,

0pR

c

pR

max

,

where A

max

is the maximum collector area. As the collector

is on the roof of the building, A

max

is the available area of

the roof (A

max

50 m

2

), R

max

is the maximum recycle

factor (R

max

100%).

The adaptive pattern search technique was used for this

constrained optimization problem [14]. This was found to

be very effective as reported by Bala and Woods [6] and

Hussain et al. [7]. The technique consists essentially of an

exploratory search and a pattern search under constrained

conditions. The optimization program was written in

FORTRAN.

6. Results and discussions

As the material properties are usually xed and the

environmental parameters cannot be controlled, the para-

meters which we can optimize are the geometrical

parameters and the operating parameters. To identify the

parameters, which are necessary to optimize, we simulate

the performance of the optimization model based on the

physical simulation model and economic model. The

parameters used in this simulation were taken from the

drying system installed at the Royal Chitralada Projects.

Solar radiation data were taken from Solar Energy

Research Laboratory at Silpakorn University, Nakhon

Pathom located at about 60 km from the Royal Chitralada

Projects since this Laboratory maintains a data base of

solar radiation for a long period. The relative humidity and

ambient air temperature were also taken from the same

Laboratory. These data are in the form of typical

meteorological year (TMY). The optimum values obtained

from the optimization model and actual values used in the

real drying system at the Royal Chitralada Project are

shown in Table 1. It is found from Table 1 that the

collector area of the real drying system is 18 m

2

less than

the optimum (26 m

2

). The optimum recycle factor is 90%

which is slightly lower than the actual recycle factor in use

(95%). The optimum drying cost (0.225 USDper kg) is half

of the actual drying cost (0.45 USDper kg).

7. Conclusions

The solar-assisted drying system in the Royal Chitralada

Projects has been simulated to provide design data and it

has also been optimized for the solar collector area and the

air recycle factor for drying bananas using the simulation

model combined with an economic model.

The simulation model was validated by comparing the

simulation results with the experimental results. The

patterns of the variations of the simulated temperatures

agree well with those of the measured temperatures. Also

the simulated moisture contents agree well with the

measured results. This simulation program was used as a

tool for the optimization process. The adaptive pattern

search technique was use to optimize the collector area

and the air recycle factor. The optimum values of the

collector area of 26 m

2

and the optimum recycle factor of

90% were obtained from the optimization process. These

optimum values resulted in the minimum drying cost with

0.225 USDper kg.

As this drying system is for the demonstration of drying

technology for small-scale food industry, the results

obtained from this work can be used as a guideline

for the construction of other units of the solar drying

system. The simulation and the optimization programs

ARTICLE IN PRESS

Table 1

The optimum and the actual values of the solar collector area (A

c

), the

recycle factor (R

c

) and the drying cost

Optimum value Actual value

Area of solar collector (m

2

) 26 18

Air recycle factor (%) 90 95

Drying cost (USD/kg) 0.225 0.45

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1530

developed in this work can be applied to optimize similar

drying systems.

Acknowledgement

The rst author was awarded a scholarship from the Her

Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. We

would like to acknowledge for this support. The authors

would also like to thank Dr. A. Esper and Mr. Thada

Keawprasert for the valuable advice and supports.

References

[1] Bala BK. Solar drying systems: simulation and optimization.

Udaipur, India: Agrotech Publishing Academy; 1998.

[2] Steinfeld A, Segal I. Simulation model of solar thin layer drying

process. Dry Technol 1986;4(4):53554.

[3] Radajewski W, Jolly P, Abawi GY. Optimization of solar grain

drying in a continuous ow dryer. J Agric Eng Res 1987;38:12744.

[4] Radajewski W, Jolly P, Wollin AS. Optimization of solar drying

system. In: Proceedings of the 11th international congress on

agricultural engineering, Dublin, 1989. p. 22438.

[5] Radajewski W, Graydon D, McGaha EJ. Optimization of solar hay

drying in a step-ow dryer. Trans ASAE 1990;33:142331.

[6] Bala BK, Woods JL. Optimization of the natural-convection solar

drying system. Energy 1995;20(4):28594.

[7] Hussain MA, Woods JL, Bala BK. Optimization of solar tunnel drier

for drying of chilli without color loss. Renew Energy 2005;30:72942.

[8] Dufe JA, Beckman WA. Solar engineering of thermal process. New

York: Wiley; 1991.

[9] McAdams WH. Heat transmission. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill;

1954.

[10] Kays WM, Crawford ME. Convective heat and mass transfer.

New York: McGraw-Hill; 1980.

[11] Smitabhindu R. Thin layer model of banana. Paper presented at the

ADC conference, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, 2004.

[12] Bala BK. Deep bed drying of malt. PhD thesis, University of

Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 1983.

[13] Audsley E, Wheeler J. The annual cost of machinery calculated actual

cash ows. J Agric Eng Res 1978;23:189201.

[14] Taubert WH. A search decision rule for the aggregate scheduling

program. Manage Sci 1968;14B:34359.

ARTICLE IN PRESS

R. Smitabhindu et al. / Renewable Energy 33 (2008) 15231531 1531

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