Energetic performance analysis of drying agricultural products integrated with solar tracking
Renewable energy sources such as solar energy for drying purposes in a more effective and efficient way is inevitable for preservation of agricultural products in developing nations with inadequate access to electricity. This study investigates the effects of using a solar tracking device on the energy performance of drying processes. Three categories of drying conditions were carried out simultaneously; for a fixed solar box dryer, a solar box dryer aided by a tracking device, and open air drying over an effective total drying time of 6 hours each day, for 5 days. The average solar intensity for the open air, fixed and tracking collector drying were determined as 156.54, 180.72 and 186.81, corresponding to average drying temperatures of 32.17, 43.31 and 45.93 respectively. Solar intensity of open air drying can be increased by as much as 15.45-19.34% if fixed and tracking solar collector systems are employed. Integration of a tracking device enhances the solar intensity of collectors during drying; which translates to accelerated drying process and drying efficiency.