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A solar air heater with composite-absorber systems for food dehydration

Madhlopa, A. and Jones, S.A. and Saka, J.D.K. (2002) A solar air heater with composite-absorber systems for food dehydration. Renewable Energy, 27 (1). pp. 27-37. ISSN 0960-1481

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Abstract

Development of appropriate technologies for conversion of solar radiation to thermal energy is essential for food preservation. A solar air heater, comprising two absorber systems in a single flat-plate collector, was designed on the principles of psychrometry. The heater was integrated to a drying chamber for food dehydration. This collector design offered flexibility in manual adjustment of the thermal characteristics of the solar dryer. The performance of the dryer was evaluated by drying fresh samples of mango (Mangifera indicus). Both fresh and dried mango samples were analysed for moisture content (MC), pH and ascorbic acid. During the dehydration period, meteorological measurements were made. The air heater converted up to 21.3% of solar radiation to thermal power, and raised the temperature of the drying air from about 31.7 °C to 40.1 °C around noon. The dryer reduced the MC of sliced fresh mangoes from about 85% (w/w) to 13% (w/w) on wet basis, and retained 74% of ascorbic acid. It was found that the dryer was suitable for preservation of mangoes and other fresh foods.