State of the art Solar Bubble Dryer

Around 12 percent of post-harvest losses among prime agricultural commodities occur during drying. This is caused by erratic and unpredictable weather conditions and the lack of proper infrastructure to dry the commodities.

To help farming communities around the world during this critical stage of the post-harvest process, GrainPro, Inc., the experts in post-harvest solutions, in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Germany's Hohenheim University, developed an innovative solution called the Solar Bubble Dryer™ (SBD).

The SBD is designed to mitigate the effects of unpredictable weather and climate change by safely drying commodities. The SBD also retains commodities to ensure uniform drying and easy turning.

Globally, particularly in developing nations, sun-drying is the cheapest and most preferred method used by small-hold farming communities. Unfortunately, sun dependent drying is not the most reliable method resulting in substantial losses, damaged commodities and added economic losses for farmers.

Sun-drying is commonly done on roads or fields, exposed the commodity to the elements, consumed by animals and ran over by vehicles. During the rainy season, farmers can't dry their commodities immediately after harvest. Additionally, sudden rains re-wet commodities.

The SBD is designed to protect commodities - including coffee, cocoa, rice, wheat, corn, millet, beans - during drying while maximizing the income potential of farmers. Made from durable materials, its transparent polyethylene cover is UV-resistant and water repellent, while its drying floor is made from sturdy plastic materials to ensure that water can't penetrate from below in case of heavy rains.

The transparent cover acts like a bubble that traps solar radiation and heats up the commodity being dried. Moisture is then vaporized and pushed out by built-in ventilators (which also maintain the shape of the bubble). These ventilators are powered by pure solar-energy or by grid electricity.

The SBD can dry grains and seeds at an average drying rate of 0.5% moisture content per hour for paddy and corn. During sunny weather conditions, the drying rate is faster in the SBD compared to regular sun-drying.

"We envision the Solar Bubble Dryer to be the future of solar-drying," explains Phil Villers, GrainPro President, at the company's corporate headquarters in Concord, Massachusetts. "This solution, along with our storage innovations, will address the issues that challenge farmers' production and incomes. Our goal here is not just to provide an efficient solar-drying product, but to help farmers maximize their earnings by having the ability to sell high-quality commodities that always fetch better prices in the market."

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