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Pico Solar Crop Dryer (POD) for Farm Level Grain Drying by Small Holder Farmers in Africa

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801427.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801427)
Authors:   Mingyuan Chen, Richard L. Stroshine, Arvind Raman, Patrick Ketiem
Keywords:   Africa, corn drying, maize drying, solar drying, sustainable agriculture


. For African farmers, proper drying is considered to be the biggest single factor in determining whether grain can be effectively stored without deterioration. The overall goal of the project is to develop a solar dryer that costs approximately $100, can be easily disassembled and transported, and can dry 90 kg of grain in one day with one hour or less of manual labor. The Pico solar crOp Dryer (POD) was developed to address this need. The shelled corn was placed in wooden or plastic trays and covered with plastic sheets. Several small fans of the type used for cooling electronics moved air through the dryer. Power was supplied by a 12 volt 20 Watt Solar Panel and a 12 volt 7 ampere hour lead acid battery. A charge controller allowed the fans to draw energy from both the solar panel and the battery. This POD was tested at Purdue in September of 2017. The test was conducted on freshly harvested corn at 26.5% mc. The POD was able to dry 123 kg of 26% mc maize to 13% giving 100 kg of dry corn. Drying was conducted only during the day time and was completed in 30 hours. In a POD test conducted in Kenya in May of 2018, shelled corn was dried from 21% to 14.7% in 16 hours of drying over two calendar days. The final moisture was above 13% because the second day was cloudy and there was a rain shower.

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