SAPO! Education Series
Energy from the Sun! What a wonderful thing. The sun is always shining somewhere and in some applications of the present/future solar energy can be collected 24/7 up in space as there is nothing shield it’s path.
In this education series we will use sun a different way that collecting it for energy like a solar panel. We will use it for heat and drying. This is not a new concept for most, drying your clothes in the sun has probably been done by everyone throughout the history of clothing.
Another application for using the suns rays for drying is Solar Dehydration of our food. Veggies and fruit is what we used our DYI solar dehydrator and we did it using a method called Passive Solar Drying.
Examine the actual solar dyer we constructed. There are a few features to notice and I’ll explain the passive part as well. In our picture the dehydrator is open. For the dryer to work we must close that door. The fruit or veggies or placed on a door size panel with a screen that will not rust as to not effect the food. We place the food on the screen, set it on the stand and then close the door.
On major feature that we felt that was important was the sun should never hit the product as the UV can damage it and also may destroy some of the vitamins, essentially it’s nutritional value. So our door closes and is painted black so that the sun heats it up really good. Using a convection method the heated up black painted door radiated heat to the product without the rays hitting it.
The screen sits on top of the wavy metal roofing and this is a very important feature to explain, if I can do so effectively in words. Take a look at the picture, you may not notice but the stand is on a slant and that is on purpose. The back end is higher so when the unit heats the waviness of the roofing material has left tunnels for the heat to rise and leave the unit, which is very important for proper drying. This is an example of passive solar, using the fact that heat rises to create air flow. You may notice some outhouses have a black painted up on top of the outhouse. This actually works in a similar way, heating air on top, making it rise, essentially pulling the cooler air from underneath, creating a convection current. Our solar dehydrator is a very simple form of this. Most electric dehydrators have a fan to assist as moving air also drys the product and keeps mold away.
So this is an example of a Passive Solar Dehydrator for fruit and veggies and whatever else you can come up with.
I found this design online, but I would have to search again for it’s link.
Reviews of this particular design…
I think it worked quite well but was not very calculated. It would sometimes heat to high, which was something we wanted to avoid for nutrition but it worked without electric. We had put wheels on it to move it around for those really hot days to control our heat and that worked a bit. We used it for Mango and Coconut a lot and it really helped us save those fruits for later and not let them get wasted when there are in such ridiculous abundance during harvest season. Overall the design could use some tweaking for professional use but for out purposes it was great. We could dry almost every day and it keep our minds going as to what many uses we could try. Dehydrated flatbread, granola, herbs to dry where all things we had fun attempting.
Until next time,
Harry, Staff Contributor at Pro Planet People
Please let us know if you have questions or ideas or a project like this you would love to share!
Solar Dehydrator for Fruit and Veggies and anything else you can think of!
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