Journal article Open Access
Johannes P. Angula; Freddie Inambao
In this study the performance of a forced convection mixed-mode solar grain dryer integrated with a preheater was evaluated. The type of grains used in the experiment were 72 freshly harvested maize cobs with a total mass of 17 kg. The experiment was conducted at various airflow speeds and preheater temperatures ranging from 0.5 m/s to 2 m/s and 30 ℃ to 40 ℃, respectively. The aim of the study was to improve the performance of an existing indirect solar dryer which was converted to a mixed-mode solar dryer. The initial thermal efficiency of the indirect solar dryer before modification was 36 %. The results from the experiment indicated a maximum thermal efficiency of 58.8 % with a corresponding drying rate of 0.0438 kg/hr. The minimum thermal efficiency for the mixed-mode solar grain dryer system was 47.7 %, with a corresponding drying rate of 0.0356 kg/hr. The fastest drying time of maize cobs was achieved in 4 hours and 34 minutes from an initial moisture content of 24.7 % wb to 12.5 % wb. The findings show a significant improvement in the dryer system's performance. This is a clear indication that operating a solar dryer system in mixed-mode operation with forced convection and the assistance of a preheater or backup heater can significantly improve drying processes and increase food preservation.
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