SolarWall® Solar Drying Adds to both Yield & Bottom Line
9,000ft2 SolarWall® system is used to dry coffee beans at this plantation in Panama.
The SolarWall technology is used for a variety of agricultural process applications. In addition to its substantial usage for
poultry and livestock ventilation it is also ideally suited for other agricultural applications, such as crop and process drying.
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 and uneven moisture levels.
Agricultural and agri-food operators consume tremendous quantities of energy which represent a sizable proportion of their total input costs. Rising energy prices has been putting downward pressure on agricultural incomes in countries around the world, which is why solar energy represents a tremendous opportunity for the agricultural sector.
For these reasons, upgrading the drying operations to include solar yields a double-benefit in terms of: (1) Energy savings, and (2) Producing the best possible finished food-product. SolarWall® systems have been used for drying coffee, tea, spices, cocoa, herbs, fruits, nuts, rubber, rice, manure, lumber and many other products in countries around the world. It can either act as a stand along system, or as a preheat to traditional mechanical operations, and can be easily incorporated into tunnel, trough or conveyor dryers.
As well, many food products require low temperature heat (i.e. up to 50 C or 120 F) which SolarWall systems are ideally suited to deliver. This preserves the quality of the produce, which produces a higher yield. As well, the SolarWall technology removes humidity from the incoming air because it is heated before entering the building or drying chamber, which means that the air has been preconditioned to absorb more moisture.
Proper drying is also associated with a decreased incidence of mycotoxins, especially on corn (maize) and other crops. Adequate drying of crops is essential to help minimize the risk of mould growth and mycotoxins after the harvesting of crops, and solar drying is considered to be an effective preventative measure against mycotoxins.
Workers at the Malabar solar tea drying facility in Indonesia.
SolarWall systems are also highly effective and cost-efficient in other process drying and heating applications. Dryers need low grade heat sources to heat large volumes of air. Many commercial dryers run on fuels that burn hot; in many cases, more heat is produced than is actually needed and goes to waste. Not so with SolarWall systems. From commercial drying of laundry, to drying woods and manure, to curing leathers, and from heating swimming pools to preheating combustion air for furnaces, SolarWall drying systems work without fuel waste, and sometimes without any fuel use at all!
For products or processes that require higher temperature heat, SolarWall systems can still act in a pre-heating capacity and displace a percentage of the total heating costs.
And, obviously, replacing the increasingly expensive natural gas, oil and propane normally required for such heating applications with free solar energy can result in significant savings. In fact, the payback period can be surprisingly short.
The heat from the SolarWall system is used to dry fire hoses in this LEED Gold Fire Hall in Richmond, BC.
Each square meter of SolarWall panelling produce the same amount of heat generated by a 500 watt heater. By installing a SolarWall system, burners not only get turned down, they often get turned off completely for extended periods of time.
Every client can tell such a story – and every client is enjoying substantial energy savings. For instance, the Sonoma Herb Exchange in California saves 31 million BTUs annually by displacing 325 gallons of propane that would be needed if fossil fuels were used instead of solar power. Keyawa Orchards, which dries over 12 million lbs. of walnuts every year, enjoys fuel savings of 1,431 million BTUs a year, with corresponding annual cost savings of $13,800. Coopeldos R.L.; a coffee installation in Costa Rica is enjoying annual savings of 25%. And on it goes. Click here for more examples.
As a result, the same technology that lets the SolarWall technology lead the way in using solar energy to heat buildings is now setting solar crop drying and solar process heating standards worldwide for both agricultural and commercial applications.
To find out how you can save money and create your wares in an eco-friendly manner, please contact us through our request for information form.