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Food Quality Magazine Jan. 2016 Issue 1 (P.16)
The benefits of using solar energy in the processing of food products is gaining traction in both the agricultural community and with end-use consumers who ascribe a premium to such products.
Solar air heating systems are used in different configurations around the world to produce hot air that can be used for space heating or for process heat purposes. This specific use – solar process drying – is becoming more popular in the agricultural community as it provides a clean energy solution to producing high quality food products.
Consider that many of the world’s most important crops need to be dried to remove moisture as part of the production process. Removing the moisture from crops such a coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa, nuts, fruit, rice, spices, corn, etc. is an essential process that helps transform the raw goods into the final product. It is also extremely resource intensive when using mechanical drying methods that rely on wood, propane or oil. In more traditional drying operations, it is common for produce to be passively air-dried in the sun, which takes significantly longer than mechanical drying and can lead to a higher rate of spoilage, mycotoxins and uneven moisture levels. (suite…)