Shoolini University researchers have created another groundbreaking invention that can revolutionise food preservation in developing countries. The newly designed and patented Energy Efficient Impinging Jet Solar Food Dryer uses solar energy to dry food, preventing fermentation and growth of moulds.
Unlike the traditional open-air drying method, solar food dryers protect food from contamination by dust, insects, rodents, and other animals. Moreover, open-air drying is not feasible in humid climates. This is where solar food dryers are highly advantageous, providing a better alternative to dehydrating food. Not only do they produce appetising, more nutritious and tastier food, they can be used in humid climates as well.
The Indian Patent Office has granted the patent to Dr Ranchan Chauhan, Adit Rana and Dr Raj Kumar of Shoolini University.
The patented design of the dryer uses a new methodology called jet impingement technique. This technique subjects fewer loads on air circulation units such as fan or blower, which results in less friction and reduced heat loss, said Dr Raj Kumar. Research has shown that the jet impingement technique used in this invention results in higher thermal efficiency than traditional corrugated plate absorbers.
According to Dr Kumar, this invention has the potential to improve food preservation and reduce food losses in developing countries. With more than 15 per cent of the world population malnourished, this invention has the potential to impact food security and sustainability significantly, he added.
Research shows that small farmers in developing countries produce more than 80 per cent of food. These farmers dry food products in the sun, so the end product is poor quality. Some food products are unsuitable for natural sun drying as they can result in the loss of desirable characteristics. Experiments in various countries have shown that solar dryers can be effectively used to dry agricultural products. Moreover, appropriate solar dryers should be designed for different drying processes.
The new invention has several advantages over traditional solar dryers. It has a unique temperature and relative humidity control system at the drying cabin and a new heat exchanger design (Impinging Jet Technology) for maximum heat exchange. This invention has a shorter payback than traditional solar dryers and extra loading capacity.