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Study on performance evaluation of hybrid drier for turmeric (Curcuma longa L.

) drying at village scale

Jaishree Prasad *, V.K. Vijay, G.N. Tiwari, V.P.S. Sorayan
Center for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi 110 016, India

Abstract Use of petroleum fuel or electricity for drying of agricultural produce is an expensive process at village scale in developing countries. Therefore, an appropriate technology for drying of agricultural produce has been developed and its performance for the drying of turmeric rhizomes has been evaluated. A direct type natural convection solar cum biomass drier was developed. The system is capable of generating an adequate and continuous ow of hot air temperature between 55 and 60 C. Turmeric rhizomes were successfully dried in developed system. Dried turmeric rhizomes obtained under solar biomass (hybrid) drying by two dierent treatments viz., water boiling and slicing were similar in quality with respect to physical appearance like color, texture etc but there is signicant variation in volatile oil. The quantitative analysis showed that the traditional drying i.e., open sun drying had taken 11 days to dry the rhizomes while solar biomass drier took only 1.5 days and produced better quality produce. The eciency of the whole unit obtained was 28.57%.

Keywords: Drying; Hybrid; Solar biomass drier; Turmeric; Curcuma longa L.

1. Introduction Drying is an essential process used all over the world for the preservation of farm produce. It helps in reducing the water activity of the produce to a level below which deterioration does not occur for a denite duration. Various drying methods/sources are employed to dry dierent food produce. Each one is having its own advantages and limitations. Conventional fuel operated driers are more ecient than open sun drying, provide uniform high quality dried produce, with many more advantages, but in spite of all these favorable points, such units are beyond the reach of rural people with lim-

ited product volume and nancial resources. Moreover, the increasing rate of fuel consumption in agriculture has made it necessary, not only to save energy by intensifying the drying process, improving designs etc. but also using renewable energy sources for drying processes. Solar and biomass are the two main renewable sources of energy that is used for drying of agricultural produce. Appropriate use of these sources in drying provide reduction of drying time and specic improvement of the product quality in terms of color, taste and texture in comparison to open sun drying. In open sun drying, products are spread on ground in thin layer where they are exposed to direct sunlight and wind carrying dust. Considerable losses occur during this drying process because of inuences such as rodents, birds, insects, rain and microorganisms. This causes degradation in produce quality and the product not to be marketable

in domestic and international market (Lutz, Muhlbauer, Muller, & Reisinger, 1978). Choosing the right drying technique is thus important in the process of drying produce, especially in the tropical region where some agricultural produce are collected and harvested during winter or rainy season. Driers in general can be easily classied into dierent types, depending on mode of heat supply, design case, operating pressure, handling of the feed stock etc (Ekechukwu & Norton, 1999). The brace type solar drier is one of the few designs that has achieved some level of acceptance (Brett, Cox, Trim, Simmons, & Anstee, 1996). The design is suitable for small-scale industries because it is easy and inexpensive to construct, simple to run and can produce a good quality of products under favorable climatic conditions. One signicant disadvantages of this drier is that it works in the sunlight only. For commercial producers, this factor limits its ability to dry a produce when there is not adequate solar radiation. Drying time also extends as drying takes place during daytime only. Review of literature indicates that there have been a few attempts made to overcome this limitation in simple natural convection solar driers. There are industrial scale driers operated on electricity. Leis, Muhlbauer, and Mulato (1999) reported a drier, which used a biomass burner for air heating and running blower through electricity correspond to a thermal output of 112 kW. The limitation of this drier is that it cannot be used in the areas where electricity is not available. This paper presents a direct type natural convection solar drier integrated with a simple biomass burner. The system has been evaluated under winter season of Delhi in India for drying of turmeric rhizomes.

2. Material and methods 2.1. Description of the solar biomass drier The solar biomass drier was fabricated for drying of turmeric rhizomes and other such produce. The details of the drier are shown in Fig. 1. The drier has two parts: (i) solar drier and (ii) biomass burner. (i) Solar drier. The system consists of single glazed (2 mm thickness) solar cabinet drier mounted on a rock slab. The rock slab is placed on a chamber made of bricks. The cross-sectional area covered by the solar drier is 1.12 m2. The top glass surface is inclined at an angle of 28.5 to maximize the capture of solar radiation at Delhi (latitude 2832 0 N) during the test period. The drier has three drying trays of wire mesh base and drying area covered by each tray is 0.941 m2. Three adjustable vents, measuring 0.18 m 0.06 m, are located at the top of the rear panel of the drier. Access to the interior of the drier is via two hinged doors at the front of the cabinet with a locking arrangement for (un)loading of the products. (ii) Biomass burner. The biomass burner was having a dimension of 0.65 m 0.60 m 0.55 m rectangular shape box. At the bottom of burner an adjustable door is provided for feeding the biomass and controlling airow for combustion and an iron grate is provided for burning biomass. The exhaust gases exits through a chimney of 0.075 m diameter and 1.2 m long ue pipe placed on one side of the biomass burner. Three metal baes plates are

Outlet air vents Chimney Glass cover Solar drier Trays Drying chamber Rock slab Biomass chamber Brick chamber Baffles

Fresh air inlet

Biomass air inlet control gate with feeding

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of solar biomass drier.

provided below the chimney and above the iron grate to lengthen the ow path of combustion gases. A brick chamber encloses this biomass burner, having 14 rectangular holes eight holes along the length and six holes along the width. Each hole is having an area of 0.019 m2 around the periphery of brick wall at ground level. The brick chamber is covered with a rock slab of 0.04 m thickness to prevent excessive rise of air temperature in the cabinet drier.

(i) Treatment 1. First batch of 15 kg turmeric rhizomes was sliced in 5070 mm length and 8 mm thickness and treated with boiling water for 2 min (TRE1). (ii) Treatment 2. Second batch of 15 kg was sliced in same length and thickness as in the rst batch but not treated with boiling water (TRE2). Both treated rhizomes were experimented separately. Boiling made cells of the rhizomes softer so that moisture can be easily removed. After boiling, material was unloaded in pans as a heap and left undisturbed overnight. For comparison, a separate batch of 500 g rhizomes was sliced in same length and thickness and dried in open sun. In order to simplify the evaluation, solar energy was the sole source of heat for drying during the daytime and the biomass burner was used only at night. The drier was operated from 6.00 am to 10.00 am with biomass heating when solar radiation was not enough for drying. It was then operated as a solar drier from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. Biomass operation was restored again after 4.00 pm. The drying was stopped when product reached at constant weight. 2.4. Instrumentation and observations The following parameters were measured during the trials: solar radiation, mass of turmeric rhizomes, temperatures, relative humidity, wind speed, airow through the drier and biomass burnt. Temperature of product and relative humidity of air was measured by infrared thermometer (modelWaco-314) and hygrometer (modelJ411-TH), respectively. Solar radiation was recorded with a solarimeter (MakeCentral Electronics Ltd., India) and wind speed by hot wire anemometer (Lutron AM-4204) with an accuracy of 0.2 m/s. The mass of the product and biomass fuel was measured with a physical balance (modelDocbel, Braun).

2.2. Operation of drier This drier is designed to make use of solar energy during day time and biomass during night time as source of heat. Drying parameters were observed at ve dierent points i.e., center and corners of each of the trays. The samples were weighed at dierent time interval during day and night. As the solar radiations falls on the glass surface, these enter inside the drier and get absorbed by the produce and inside cabinet surface, resulting in an increase of drier temperature. This process produces temperature dierence between the inside and outside cabinet air. Inside the cabinet, heated air goes upward, pick up moisture from the product and comes out from the vents provided at the top of the cabinet drier. This action reduces the pressure inside the cabinet and ambient air is drawn into the drier through the inlet holes of the cabinet. A continuous ow of air is thus established. During periods of low or zero solar radiation, biomass burner is used for back up heating. The combustion gases heat up the box surface, which in turn warm the air as it moves over the outer surface. The warm air rises up into the drying chamber, evaporating and picking up moisture from the produce as it passes through the trays, and then escapes through the top vents as before. Temperature inside the cabinet drier is controlled manually by closing and opening of the feeding gate and feeding rate of the fuel wood in the biomass burner. 2.3. Performance evaluation of drier The drier is installed at the Micro-Model of the Center for Rural Development and Technology, IIT Delhi in India and tested during the months of November 2003January 2004. For the ve separate trials, 150 kg of fresh turmeric rhizomes were obtained and visually checked for any defect. Spoiled rhizomes have been removed and good one was selected for testing. Experiments were divided into two parts for each trial. Each trial was made for 30 kg of turmeric rhizomes. Following treatments had been given for all the trials:

3. Results and discussion 3.1. Capacity and drying times With a single layer of specied length and thickness, 15 kg of turmeric rhizomes (5 kg on each of the tray) were used for study. Moisture present in the product with drying period in one of the trials of the full load drier is shown in Fig. 2. It is clearly shown that drying time for TRE1 and in TRE2 was 36 and 42 h, respectively whereas in open sun drying it was 266 h for drying of the same product from moisture content of 78% w.b. to 9% w.b. during that trial.

Turmeric rhizomes temperature (C)

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 50 100 150

Moisture content (%wb)

70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
6: 00 10 :0 0 13 :0 0 16 :0 0 19 :0 0 22 :0 0 6: 00 10 :0 0 13 :0 0 16 :0 0 19 :0 0 22 :0 0 6: 00 9: 00
Top tray TRE1 Middle tray TRE1 Bottom tray TRE1 Top tray TRE2 Middle tray TRE2 Bottom tray TRE2

TRE1 TRE2 Open sun drying




Drying period (h)

Fig. 2. Variation of moisture content with time for hybrid and open sun drying.

Time of the day (h)

3.2. Uniformity of drying To get uniform drying in drier, which is essential for commercial producers, there were two areas of interest i.e., variations between trays and dierences across trays. 3.2.1. Drying parameters at dierent tray levels There were signicant variations in measured drying parameters at dierent tray levels during day and night. During the day, slices on the top tray dried faster while slices on the bottom tray dried slower. Experiments showed that moisture remained in the slices of the top tray was 68.77% after the rst 12 h of drying compared to 71.4% and 72.43% for those on the middle and bottom tray, respectively (Fig. 3). The maximum temperature of the product measured at top tray was 49.8 C during rst day and temperatures of the product of the middle and bottom trays were 42.2 and 39.9 C, respectively (Fig. 4). This trend of drying continued on subsequent days for TRE1 and TRE2 but the dierence in the remained moisture content among the trays level reduces as the moisture removal from the partially dried slices becomes harder. During the night when the burner was in operation, the slices on the bottom tray dried faster compared to those upper two trays. After 24 h of drying, observations revealed that the moisture remained in the bottom

Fig. 4. Variation of turmeric rhizomes temperatures for all the three trays with time of the day for TRE1 and TRE2.

tray was 50.42% compared to 57.47% and 61.18% for those on the middle and top trays, respectively. The maximum temperature of product measured at the bottom tray on the rst night was 59.9 C, which was 1.1 and 4.7 C above than those measured at the middle and top tray, respectively. However, after 24 h of drying, the turmeric rhizomes on the bottom tray dried more slowly than those on the middle and the top trays, indicating that they were nearly dry at this time. The nal moisture content of rhizomes after 36 h of drying were 8.53%, 8.41% and 8.11% for those on top, middle and bottom trays, respectively. 3.2.2. Drying parameters across the trays It was observed that from morning to noon, rhizomes at east side having higher temperature than west side. But from afternoon to the evening situation became reverse. All the time rhizomes at central position had higher temperature than other positioned rhizomes (corners), as air velocity at center was higher compared to other positions. This may be due to the well-known fact that sun moves from east to west. Relative humidity and velocity of air were also measured just above the rhizomes. During day hours airow rates were very low but in night airow rates was in the range of 0.2 0.28 m/s, when outside wind velocity was 0.22.5 m/s. It was also observed that volumetric airow rate inside the cabinet was 0.029 m3/s and average volumetric ow rate of air coming from the three ports was 0.02 m3/s. This discrepancy may be due to the leakage of air from the drier at locations other than the vents and inaccuracy in the measurement of air velocity. Fig. 5 shows temperature dierences between ambient and inside cabinet air temperatures for all the trials. For one of the trials at 1.00 pm ambient temperature was 30.6 C but inside cabinet air temperature was 49.3 C and during night ambient temperature was 10.3 C but inside cabinet air temperature was 59.7 C due to biomass heating. Intensity of solar radiation

Moisture content (% wb)

Day 1
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 12 h

Night 1

Day 2
Top tray Middle tray Botttom tray

24 h

36 h

Drying period (h)

Fig. 3. Drying period vs. moisture content in dierent trays.

60 Ambient temperature ( oC) 50

Ambinet temp, Ist trial Ambient temp, II trial Ambient temp, III trial Ambient temp, IV trial Ambient temp, Vth trial Cabinet inside temp, Ist trial Cabinet inside temp, II trial Cabinet inside temp, III trial Cabinet inside temp, IV trial Cabinet inside temp, Vth trial

60 50 Cabinet inside temperature ( oC)

cabinet inside temperature

40 30 20 10 0 7:00 10:00 13:00 16:00 19:00 22:00 6:00 10:00 13:00 16:00 19:00 22:00
Time of the day (h)
Fig. 5. Variation of temperatures with time of the day.

40 30 20
Ambient temperature

10 0

was measured regularly for all the trials during the experiments and shown in Fig. 6. 3.3. Quality evaluation Physical appearance in relation to surface color and color on breaking was recorded. Due to project limitations color of the dried product were observed visually. Open sun dried rhizomes were dark and many of them were aected by white fungus, that showed their quality got deteriorated. Turmeric rhizomes of top and middle tray were good in quality than bottom tray rhizomes, as they were aected with higher temperature in night,
600 Solar radiation (W/m2) 500 400 300 200 100 0

and became case hardened and little bit dark color, while top and middle tray rhizomes were light in color and having orange yellow surfaces. The fading of color may be due to photosensitive nature of curcumin that is active constituent in turmeric rhizomes. The dried samples (100 g) obtained from each of the two batches were powdered and were analyzed for volatile oil (Clevenger distillation) extraction. For TRE1 it was 2.89% whereas in TRE2 extracted percentage of volatile oil was 3.35% and in open sun drying it was 1.75% only (Fig. 7). This dierence in volatile oil content in hybrid drying may be due to boiling of rhizomes in TRE1 in which some volatile oil had already been evaporated
Ist trial IInd trial IIIrd trial IVth trial Vth trial

7:00 10:00 13:00 16:00 19:00 22:00 6:00 10:00 13:00 16:00 19:00 22:00 Time of the day (h)
Fig. 6. Variation of intensity of solar radiation with time.

4 3.5

3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0

Hybrid drying TRE1

Hybrid drying TRE2 Open sun drying

ture content of 9%. The overall thermal eciency of the drier was therefore calculated to be 28.57%, the eciency was lower which may be due to full capacity of drier has not been utilized. It should be noted that the type of product and its nal moisture content level inuences the thermal eciency. The nal moisture in a product generally requires more energy to extract than the initial moisture, and the preparation of the product prior to drying such as slicing aects the thermal eciency.

Volatile oil (%)

Fig. 7. Variation of volatile oil in hybrid and open sun drying.

4. Conclusions but there is the advantage of less drying time. Produce dried in open sun was having less volatile oil than hybrid dried product, it showed that these rhizomes were of inferior quality. 3.4. Drier eciency Overall thermal eciency has been evaluated for the drier. The thermal eciency over an entire drying trial (g) is the ratio of the energy used to evaporate the moisture from the product to the energy supplied to the drier. In this drier, both solar radiation and biomass supplied the energy. The overall thermal eciency of the drier is therefore dened as g Mk ; SA Cm The developed natural convection solar drier with biomass burner is capable of producing the air temperature between 55 and 60 C, that was optimum for dehydration of turmeric rhizomes as well as other spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Drying time for turmeric had been drastically reduced compared to open sun drying, the reduction time was 86%. The eciency of the whole unit observed was 28.57%. The volatile oil in TRE1 was 2.89% and in TRE2 it was 3.35% but in open sun drying it was only 1.75%. The quality of product remained maintained in this drier where as in open sun drying it gets deteriorated. It was found that, water boiling (pretreatment) of turmeric reduced the volatile oil. Study concluded that without boiling treatment drying is better option for preserving quality of the dried product and slicing improves drying rates. The system is predestined for application on small farms in developing countries due to its low investment.

where M is the mass of water evaporated (kg); k is the latent heat of vaporization (MJ/kg); S is the total solar radiation on the dryer (MJ/m2); A is the solar collection area (m2); C is the caloric value of wood (MJ/kg); m is the mass of used biomass (kg). For the calculation of overall drying eciency, solar collection area (front sloping surface) is taken 1.1 m2. The average daily solar radiation on a 28 inclined surface was 30 MJ/m2. In reality, some solar radiation would enter the structure through the west and east facing sides, so the above measurement will produce some over-estimation in the solar collection eciency. The latent heat of vaporization had been calculated using a temperature-dependent function (Benon & Fuller, 2002) but has been increased by 15% because of the extra energy required to evaporate moisture from biological materials (Hall, 1957). Eight kilograms of fuel wood was burned during that trial period. The energy input from the fuel wood was 230 MJ. The solar biomass drier removed 12.6 kg of water to dry 15 kg of fresh turmeric rhizomes to mois-

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