Abstract: A natural convection solar tunnel greenhouse dryer coupled with biomass heater was designed and developed in Nallampalli region of Pollachi, Tamil Nadu (India) and also a natural convection solar tunnel greenhouse dryer without biomass heater was designed and developed in Negamam region of Pollachi, Tamil Nadu (India) for carrying out the experimental and comparison studies of drying characteristics of tomatoes during the month of May, 2014. About 50kgs of fresh and good quality tomatoes were loaded into those two respective dryers and it was repeated for three trails. The mass of fuel added to the biomass heater was about 7.5kg/hr. The biomass heater was ignited when there is a fall in sunshine (after 5PM) in order to maintain the temperature inside the dryer. The solar tunnel dryer coupled with the biomass heater dried the tomatoes which has an initial moisture content of 90% (w.b.) to a final moisture content of 9.5% (w.b.) over a time period of 24 hours whereas the solar tunnel greenhouse dryer without the biomass heater took 49 hours for reducing the moisture content of the tomatoes to the same level. The reduced drying time in the solar tunnel greenhouse dryer coupled with the biomass heater than that of the dryer without the biomass heater is due to the effect of biomass heater that is responsible for the steady increase in temperature inside the dryer by supplying sufficient heat during the night time (after 5PM) where there would be a drop in sunshine. Also the quality of the tomatoes obtained from the solar tunnel greenhouse dryer coupled with biomass heater was found to be superior to that of the tomatoes obtained from the solar tunnel greenhouse dryer without the biomass heater which is due to the high temperature and low relative humidity prevailed all the time inside the dryer irrespective of fall in sunshine.
Keywords: Biomass heater, drying time, moisture content, open sun drying, quality, solar tunnel greenhouse dryer, sunshine, temperature.
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Abstract: A natural convection solar tunnel dryer was designed and developed for carrying out the experimental and comparison studies of drying characteristics of red chillies during the month of April, 2014 in Negamam region of Pollachi, Tamil Nadu (India). About 50 kgs of red chillies were loaded into the dryer and is repeated for three trails. The drying parameters such as drying time and product quality were taken into account to find out the best drying method for red chillies. The red chillies which has an initial moisture content of 72.98% (w.b.) was reduced to a final moisture content of 7.5% (w.b.) over a time period of 56 hours in the solar tunnel greenhouse dryer whereas the open sun drying method took 122 hours for reducing the moisture content of red chillies to the same level. Also, the quality of red chillies produced from the solar tunnel greenhouse dryer was found to be superior to that of the open sun drying method.
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