Solar Conduction Dryer: A Boon to Indian Farmers
Post By Sakshi Wagh on 08-July-2015
India is one of the hungriest countries in the world-yet it wastes a huge amount of food. Production of vegetables and fruit totals about 220 million tons a year. About 30% of that never reaches the table.
The main reason for this is a lack of storage infrastructure, particularly at harvest-time. Without electricity or electric freezers, farmers have to sell everything immediately, which inevitably means it’s not sold at all. In this context, the solar conduction dryer can bring immense economic improvement in the lives of India’s farmers. The SCD is a solar-based device for the dehydration of agro products. It is so innovative that it won a US$ 60,000 grand prize at the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. This project is also recognized by UNESCO, the National University of Singapore and the government of India.
Talking about what prompted him to design such a solution, Vaibhav Tidke, founder, Science for Society says that almost 30% of agro products are wasted due to improper storage. In a country like India, a huge part of the population is directly or indirectly related to agriculture. We cannot afford to waste any percent of our food products. Besides, suicides among farmers are a major problem in our country. Wastage of the final produce is a major reason for this problem.
This project is aimed at uplifting farmers, many of whom are in dire financial situations. It is low-cost, easy to operate and can be effortlessly operated by illiterate farmers.
The SCD is based on conduction as the major mode of heat transfer, along with convection and radiation. SCD is more efficient, reduces processing time by 40 % and costs 3 times less than conventional solar dryers. These factors reduce capital expenses. Due to its design, SCD produces enough of continuous natural draft of air, which makes fan or blower redundant, and hence it does not need electricity. So the SCD’s operating costs are virtually zero.
SCD has a 12kg/day capacity and can be bought from the start-up, Science for Society (www.scienceforsociety.co.in). With 200 dryers already in use in Maharashtra, SCD is still looking to come up with a next version.