Mexico, Nov. 8 (Notimex).- Researchers from the Universidad del Valle de Mexico (UVM, for its acronym in Spanish) developed a food dryer, which is characterized for having two sources of renewable energy: solar thermal and photovoltaic.
The project includes the academics Nein Farrera, Joel Moreira Acosta, Aldo Aguilar Castillejos and Osbaldo Garcia Ramos, supported by students from the Center for Research and Innovation and Technological Development (Ciidetec, for its acronym in Spanish) of the same university institution, as well as the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas (Unicach, for its acronym in Spanish).
In a statement, the UVM reported that the universities developed these solar dehydrators, initially tower-type natural circulation systems, which are the best known technologies.
The new technology developed contains a photovoltaic system that generates electrical energy, and serves to generate heat in two electrical resistances that are placed inside a drying chamber.
"The great advantage of putting resistance is that they can be placed in the place where it is required to raise the temperature, depending on the product to be dried," said Nein Ferrera.
It indicated that this solar-thermal photovoltaic dryer has a system of vacuum tubes that raise the temperature of the air directly with solar radiation and hot air is driven by means of a fan to the same drying chamber; the system has managed to raise the temperature to more than 100 degrees centigrade.
The size of the drying chamber is four cubic meters, which allows drying products such as fruits, grains, meat, dairy, seafood, among others, which makes it multifunctional.
The structure is made of steel and aluminum, with an insulating material of very low thermal conductivity, which makes it very useful and efficient.
"The dryer has been tested with products such as mango, lemon, cheese, peanut and coffee, very good results were obtained, on average the drying is done in a third of time compared with the traditional method in drying yards," it said.
The materials are long-lasting and compatible with food products; the cost is practically only initial, since the operation that is normally very expensive for producers (when they use gas or electric dryers), with this technology is zero.
This technology from the UVM, Campus Tuxtla, called the attention of several institutions, one of them, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, which is currently in the process of patenting the solar-photovoltaic dryer created by Mexicans.
The researcher said that some time ago, producers of jalapeño pepper from the area of Palenque, Chiapas, had a fixed monthly cost of 100 thousand pesos of gas as fuel used in dryers that have this energy source. With our technological resource, he said, they could buy two of these technologies per month, having a very considerable monetary saving.
He argued that the quality of the drying is very important, because if they dry in the yards, the product becomes contaminated, gets wet when there is rain and therefore there are losses of up to 40 percent in profits; "This is the case of coffee, a product that for each degree of humidity, its price drops exponentially".
Students of engineering in Energy and Sustainable Development also worked in the photovoltaic solar dryer project, and on behalf of Unicach, a network of more than 3 thousand producers integrated by the teacher Hipólito Narcia, who achieved the rapprochement between the sector and academics.