Solar Bubble Dryer ( Solar Thermal Magazine ) – Even During Rainy Weather GrainPro’s newest drying innovation, the Solar Bubble Dryer™ (SBD), provides a solution to challenges faced by smallholder farmers throughout the world. The SBD can dry commodities such as grains and seeds to the right moisture content while shielding the commodities from intermittent rains. This enables safe and efficient drying under any weather conditions.
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.
To introduce the SBD, GrainPro will hold a commercial launching event on September 30, 2014. The event will be attended by representatives from the food security sector and related industry partners. Guests from IRRI, Philippine Department of Agriculture, just to name a few, will be given a demonstration of this new innovation along with accompanying presentations.
Since 1992, GrainPro, a uniquely not-only-for-profit company, has established itself as a world leader in developing patented and certified for organic use storage solutions. Its solutions follow the principles of Ultra Hermetic™ technology and modified atmospheres to safely preserve commodities and control infestation. Our mission is to reduce post-harvest losses, promote safer and more nutritious agricultural food commodities, and increase its marketability to improve the incomes of farming communities throughout the world.
GrainPro is headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, USA with an operation and manufacturing facility located in Subic Bay,Philippines and sales offices in India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and Mexico. GrainPro partners with a network of international distributors and organizations involved in the food and development sector.
In 2010, GrainPro fulfilled a $7 million USAID subcontract for the delivery of its hermetic storage and solar dryer systems to small Afghan farmers, with orders ranging from its 100-pound-capacity, portable airtight SuperGrainbags™ to its 5-ton to 300-ton capacity Cocoon™. GrainPro has also sold its storage solutions to international organizations and NGOs for use in countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Philippines, India, Ghana, South Sudan and Kenya. GrainPro products are now being used in over 100 countries around the world.
In addition to keeping aflatoxin levels low, GrainPro’s on-farm and village-level hermetic storage units and solar dryers prevent loss of germination capacity in stored seeds. These also significantly reduce post-harvest losses of food supply among both small and large farmers.