Modular Passive-Air Solar Dehydrator

Waste Less, Feed More

A modular sun-powered dehydrator system designed for purchase and implementation by NGOs in global food-security at the household level.

Use Case

In the same areas where hunger stunts growth of 1 in 3 children, the FAO estimates 25-50% of food is wasted. Simply for lack of preservation, not only are foods wasted but so are the resources used to grow them. With nearly 13% of the world’s population, and close to 43% of Sub-Saharan Africa living on under $1.90 USD per day, these losses come at a high price. Dehydration is a straightforward preservation approach. Targeted regions often experience intermittent access to electricity, making standard heated and fanned dehydration ineffective, and therefore often dehydrate foods directly on the ground inefficiently and in unsanitary conditions. With our simple alternative, dehydration is safe and effective, reducing food and resource waste and ensuring a high quality, safe food supply.

Potential

Passive-air solar dehydrators are often bulky, expensive and difficult to transport or build en masse. With the ability to efficiently stack dehydrators on pallets and ship them in substantial numbers, disaster relief and development agencies can purchase in lots and deliver dozens-to-hundreds of units to the regions they assist. Pictorial guides designed to improve dietary education accompany each unit along with tips to dehydrate foods and save nutritional value, traceability tools, and a pre-designed evaluation protocol. This helps users track usage, providing a built-in data feedback mechanism to aid success of future modifications and projects. Lastly, our design requires just simple tools for assembly, similar to IKEA furniture, reducing need for additional materials or inputs.

Business Case

At Sun Dried Solutions we understand that NGOs and disaster relief agencies need a systems based solution to assist their work in developing regions. Our dehydrator fits an existing market demand; we offer an innovative design for use in food preservation that can be purchased wholesale, assembled easily and benefits a wide audience. Each unit is accompanied with value-added resources, including nutritional guides and traceability tools to assist implementation and provide feedback to organizations. We have completed initial testing in the U.S. and Rwanda with planned trials in Texas, Haiti, Rwanda, Uganda and Guatemala. Initial marketing involves sales to development organizations with existing interest, and future plans include adding direct sales within the United States.

Objectives:

  1. Design and construct an affordable, simply assembled dehydrator system for household use that palletizes and requires no electricity
  2. Design region-specific pictorial guides instructing on dehydration methods and ways of improving nutritional value in the diet
  3. Develop a feedback system for users to report type and amount of usage through text and pictures, to serve as a product evaluation tool

Team Sun Dried Solutions

College Station, Texas 77845, United States of America

Our Team

Livestock and Dehydrators / Published January 13, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Livestock and Dehydrators

One of the main goals of a solar dryer is to dry food for human consumption. However that is not all that it can be used for. In Uganda Dr. Jolly is using a solar dryer to dehydrate molasses feed blocks that she makes by hand and then feeds to her cows on the demonstration farm. If a farmer had the ability to create and dry such blocks (which would greatly improve the health and therefore the value of their animals), the farmer would also be able to sell such block to other farmers, tapping into another revenue source.
Another way that the solar dryer can be used is to dry animal dung, specifically cow dung. In many urban areas of Kampala Uganda (pop. ~1.2 Mil.) there are cattle, but no trees to use as fuel for cooking. So sun dried cow dung is collected and used as fuel. A solar dryer that works quickly, is palletized and easily assembled would make it possible for a family to collect and dry fuel for themselves, but also enough for them to sell to others too.

Technology in Agriculture / Published January 12, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Technology in Agriculture

Picture a scenario where a farmer in central Uganda is able to search for ideas by visiting our website and learning which crops are most successfully being dehydrated by other farmers in the same region, and even if and where they are being sold and what kind of income this enterprise is generating.
The Sun Dried Solutions dehydrator system includes methods by which end users can provide feedback to us and our NGO and disaster relief agency counterparts. This feedback will include information about frequency and type of dehydrator use, and impact of the educational and nutritional guides that will compile to create a map of where our dehydrators are most useful and what crops are being preserved via these methods. These data will be used by us and other agencies to continually improve the effectiveness of our design and outreach. It will also become a part of the educational materials available to end users.

Trials and Tomatoes / Published January 11, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Trials and Tomatoes

We have selected tomatoes as our trial and indicator crop for many reasons. Tomatoes are have relatively high water content and so they represent juicier fruits and vegetables that can be tougher to preserve through dehydration. They are also a ubiquitous crop, being grown eaten regularly in most cultures around the world. For these reasons, we will use tomatoes in trials of dehydrator efficiency and cultural acceptability.

Team Member Profile: Ian / Published January 11, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Team Member Profile: Ian

Ian Funnell is currently working on his bachelors of science studying Construction Science at Texas A&M University. His interest in helping third world country development was sparked when he spent two months in Port Au Prince, Haiti volunteering in an orphanage. While there he was able to see first hand many of the inefficiencies and unsafe practice that plagued the communities. Upon returning home he chose his current study with an end goal of building modular homes for developing third world countries. Ian has experience in both commercial and residential construction and also has a background as a machinist. His experience in building and fabrication along with his passion for serving the global community is what led him to join the Sun Dried Solutions team.

Team Member Profile: Taya / Published January 11, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Team Member Profile: Taya

Taya Brown is a PhD student in the Horticultural Sciences Department at Texas A&M University focused on monitoring and evaluation of international agricultural development projects. A native of Washington state, Taya spent six years working on an organic row-crop and berry farm where she did farm work and managed farmers market stands, which further developed her interest in food related issues and led her to gain bachelor's degrees in organic agricultural systems and plant biology at Washington State University. Her current work surrounds evaluation of a project funded by The Starbucks Foundation and executed by World Coffee Research and Anacafe, addressing issues faced by small-scale coffee farmers in Southern Guatemala. She has extensive international experience, having worked and traveling in 41 of the 50 U.S. states and 23 countries, including Rwanda, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Holland, and New Zealand. She brings expertise in agricultural development, cultural acceptability, and food preservation to the Sun Dried Solutions team.

Our Mission

The Sun Dried Solutions team is dedicated to increasing global food security by partnering with NGOs and disaster relief agencies to decrease food and resource waste. Our focus is addressing complex issues through simple innovations that are scalable and have application in developing regions. We’ve combined expertise in food systems, ag leadership, engineering, international development, instructional design and entrepreneurship to create a holistic approach that incorporates known aspects of successful development, including education and assessment, along with innovations that can be seamlessly implemented where access to resources is low. Our passive-air solar dehydrator system allows the sanitary, efficient preservation of foods by methods non-reliant on electrical power. This facilitates greater food security even in areas where electricity is expensive, intermittent, or non-existent and reduces energy use and related costs where power is available. Using what we’ve learned through experience and education we have coupled this innovation with nutritional guides and text or web-based educational resources to increase adoption, track use, and provide valuable feedback to us and our partners. We believe that these added components will aid in the effectiveness of the dehydrator by creating a constant flow of data for evaluation of the innovation and supplemental materials. In this way we will work with existing development efforts to pool our expertise and deliver a holistic Sun Dried Solution.

Our Background

The Sun Dried Solutions team is comprised of individuals who have dedicated their lives to various aspects of international development. We are a team of Texas A&M students at Bachelors, Masters, and PhD levels, with backgrounds in aerospace and agricultural engineering, international agricultural development, construction engineering, curriculum design, small-business development, entrepreneurship, horticulture, food systems and food preservation. Each member has had personal experience working on food-security related issues. We’ve brought innovation to many countries including areas of Africa, Central and South America, and India. Our advisor and unofficial team member, Dr. Roger Hanagriff is an assistant professor in the Ag Leadership Department at Texas A&M University with years of experience in small business management and innovative product marketing. He offers valuable guidance from a business perspective that aids the marketing and scaling plans of our business. Members of Sun Dried Solutions are joined by a common belief that, with mindfulness, innovation and solid partnerships, we will overcome the many challenges and create a food-secure future.

Livestock and Dehydrators / Published January 13, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Livestock and Dehydrators

One of the main goals of a solar dryer is to dry food for human consumption. However that is not all that it can be used for. In Uganda Dr. Jolly is using a solar dryer to dehydrate molasses feed blocks that she makes by hand and then feeds to her cows on the demonstration farm. If a farmer had the ability to create and dry such blocks (which would greatly improve the health and therefore the value of their animals), the farmer would also be able to sell such block to other farmers, tapping into another revenue source.
Another way that the solar dryer can be used is to dry animal dung, specifically cow dung. In many urban areas of Kampala Uganda (pop. ~1.2 Mil.) there are cattle, but no trees to use as fuel for cooking. So sun dried cow dung is collected and used as fuel. A solar dryer that works quickly, is palletized and easily assembled would make it possible for a family to collect and dry fuel for themselves, but also enough for them to sell to others too.

Technology in Agriculture / Published January 12, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Technology in Agriculture

Picture a scenario where a farmer in central Uganda is able to search for ideas by visiting our website and learning which crops are most successfully being dehydrated by other farmers in the same region, and even if and where they are being sold and what kind of income this enterprise is generating.
The Sun Dried Solutions dehydrator system includes methods by which end users can provide feedback to us and our NGO and disaster relief agency counterparts. This feedback will include information about frequency and type of dehydrator use, and impact of the educational and nutritional guides that will compile to create a map of where our dehydrators are most useful and what crops are being preserved via these methods. These data will be used by us and other agencies to continually improve the effectiveness of our design and outreach. It will also become a part of the educational materials available to end users.

Trials and Tomatoes / Published January 11, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Trials and Tomatoes

We have selected tomatoes as our trial and indicator crop for many reasons. Tomatoes are have relatively high water content and so they represent juicier fruits and vegetables that can be tougher to preserve through dehydration. They are also a ubiquitous crop, being grown eaten regularly in most cultures around the world. For these reasons, we will use tomatoes in trials of dehydrator efficiency and cultural acceptability.

Team Member Profile: Ian / Published January 11, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Team Member Profile: Ian

Ian Funnell is currently working on his bachelors of science studying Construction Science at Texas A&M University. His interest in helping third world country development was sparked when he spent two months in Port Au Prince, Haiti volunteering in an orphanage. While there he was able to see first hand many of the inefficiencies and unsafe practice that plagued the communities. Upon returning home he chose his current study with an end goal of building modular homes for developing third world countries. Ian has experience in both commercial and residential construction and also has a background as a machinist. His experience in building and fabrication along with his passion for serving the global community is what led him to join the Sun Dried Solutions team.

Team Member Profile: Taya / Published January 11, 2016 by Katlin Keppler

Team Member Profile: Taya

Taya Brown is a PhD student in the Horticultural Sciences Department at Texas A&M University focused on monitoring and evaluation of international agricultural development projects. A native of Washington state, Taya spent six years working on an organic row-crop and berry farm where she did farm work and managed farmers market stands, which further developed her interest in food related issues and led her to gain bachelor's degrees in organic agricultural systems and plant biology at Washington State University. Her current work surrounds evaluation of a project funded by The Starbucks Foundation and executed by World Coffee Research and Anacafe, addressing issues faced by small-scale coffee farmers in Southern Guatemala. She has extensive international experience, having worked and traveling in 41 of the 50 U.S. states and 23 countries, including Rwanda, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Holland, and New Zealand. She brings expertise in agricultural development, cultural acceptability, and food preservation to the Sun Dried Solutions team.

Our Team

Our Mission

The Sun Dried Solutions team is dedicated to increasing global food security by partnering with NGOs and disaster relief agencies to decrease food and resource waste. Our focus ...Read More

Our Background

The Sun Dried Solutions team is comprised of individuals who have dedicated their lives to various aspects of international development. We are a team of Texas A&M students ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.