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Solar Drying of Silkworm Chrysalis Using a Triangle Solar Tunnel Drier

Tawon Usub, Nattapol Poomsa-ad, Lamul Wiset and Charoenporn Lertsatitthankorn

Faculty of Engineering, Mahasarakham University, Mahasarakham, Thailand

Abstract: Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the people in Thailand. Drying of agriculture products is still the most
widespread preservation technique. Solar drying can be considered as an elaboration of sun drying and is an efficient system of
utilizing solar energy. The purpose if this research was to study the performance of the triangle solar tunnel drier for drying of
silkworm chrysalis under Mahasarakham conditions. The drier consists of a transparent glass covered flat plate collector and a
drying tunnel greenhouse connected in a series to supply hot air directly into the drying tunnel greenhouse using a blower. This drier
has a loading capacity of 28 kg of silkworm chrysalis. The effect of the air flow rate through the drier was examined. During the
experiments, silkworm chrysalises were dried to the final moisture content of 20 from 370% d.b. In all the cases the use of the solar
drier leads to considerable reduction of drying time in comparison to sun drying. Samples dried in the solar tunnel drier were
completely protected from insects, rain and dusts, and the dried samples were of high quality in terms of color and hygienic. This
system can be used for drying various agricultural. Also, it is simple in construction and can be constructed at a low cost with locally
obtainable materials.

Keywords: Moisture Content, Air Flow Rate, Sun Drying, Forced Convection, Flat Plate Collector

1. INTRODUCTION

One of the great important potential applications of solar energy is the solar drying of agricultural products. Losses of agricultural
products in developing countries are estimated in the range of 30-40 % of production [1]. Open sun drying is a well-known food
preservation technique that reduces the moisture contents of agricultural products, and prevents deterioration within a period of time
regarded as the safe storage period. Considerable losses occur during this, drying process because of influences such as rodents, birds,
insects, rain and microorganisms. The quality of food can be seriously degraded so it sometimes becomes inedible. To overcome
these problems, a solar dries is introduced. Solar driers [2] may be classified into several categories, depending upon the mode of
heating or the mode of their operation. Solar driers are generally classified as (i) direct mode driers, (ii) indirect mode driers and (iii)
mixed mode driers. Direct solar driers, the air heater contains the air heater contains the grains and the solar energy passing through a
transparent cover is absorbed by the grains. Indirect drier, solar energy is collected in a separate solar air heater, and the heated air
from a separate air heater is passed through the grain bed. The mixed mode type solar driers, the heated air from a separate air heater
is passed through the grain bed, and at the same time, the top surface of the bed directly absorbs solar energy coming through the
transparent covers. Solar driers may also be divided into passive and active driers, according to the mode of flow of air (natural or
forced).
Several designs of solar driers have been studied over the years. One of them is solar tunnel drier (STD). Amir et al. [3] reported a
multipurpose STD for use in humid tropics. It reported that, compared to sun drying, the drying time of cocoa, coffee and coconut
could be reduced by up to 40 %. Collector efficiency was reported to be in the range of 23.5-36%. Garg and Kumar [4] presented the
modeling and thermal performance of a semi-cylindrical STD in the natural circulation mode. They concluded that the STD system
can be used in natural as well as in forced circulation mode. The natural convective volume flow rate and the rise in the inlet air
temperature around peak sunshine hours are sufficient for corps drying. Medved et al. [5] developed an inflatable solar collector of
hemispherical geometry. Their prototype is 40.8 cm in diameter and the absorber is a 10 cm high and 6.5 cm diameter can.
A transient model of lumped parameters was used to analyze the thermal behavior of such a heater. The model was solved by using
the inverse matrix method. In this study, the difference between the numerical model and experimental results were approximately
7%. Bala et al. [6] reported solar drying of pineapple using STD. This drier has a loading capacity of 120-150 kg of pineapple. The
temperature of drying air at the collector outlet varied from 34.1 to 64 oC during drying. Hossain et al. [7] have investigated
optimization of STD for drying of chilli in Bangladesh. Two optimum designs are obtained. For design-1, both collector and drying
unit are 14 m long and 1.9 m wide and for design-2, both collector and drying unit are 13 m long and 2 m wide. Both the collector
and drying unit of basic mode are 10 m long and 1.8 m wide. The capacity of optimum mode driers is higher than basic mode drier
and achieves a cost saving 15.9%.
Thailand has a high potential for the production of solar energy. It is located in the tropical climate zone. The most parts of the
country receive a yearly average daily global solar radiation in the range of 18-19 MJ/m2 day and only 0.5% of the area receives
radiation less than 16 MJ/m2 day [8].
The purpose of this research was to study the performance of a mixed mode type forced convection triangle tunnel solar drier for
drying of silkworm chrysalis under Mahasarakham conditions

2. METHODOLOGY

2.1 Solar tunnel drier


A mixed mode type forced convection triangle tunnel solar drier consisted of a flat plate air heating collector, a tunnel drying unit
and a blower to provide the required air flow rate over the product to be dried as schematically depicted in Fig.1. Both the collector
and the drying unit are covered with transparent glass 3 mm thick. It has the form of a duct of triangle cross section (Ac = 0.36 m2)
with maximum height at the middle of 0.4 m. The solar air heater has an area of 6.6 m2 and uses a painted matte black metal sheet of
0.003 m thickness. The products to be dried are placed in a thin layer on a stainless steel wire screen in the tunnel drier

Corresponding author: freeconvect@hotmail.com


(area of 4.4 m2). Closed cell elastomeric (thermal conductivity of 0.04 W/m K) is used as insulation material to reduce the heat loss
from the drier. The whole system is placed horizontally on a raised platform 0.8 m above the ground level. Ambient air was drawn
from the opening in the front and passed through the collector. Heat is transferred from the absorber to the air in the collector and
heated air from the collector while passing over the products absorbs moisture from the products. Solar radiation also passes through
the transparent cover of the drier and heats the products in the drier.

Fig. 1 Photograph of experimental solar tunnel drier

2.2 Experimented method


The solar tunnel drier was installed at Faculty of Engineering, Mahasarakham University, Mahasarakham. The drier was placed on
a raised platform and it was not under the shade of tree or buildings at all times. Drying experiments have been curried out in the
month of May 2006. The global solar radiation incident on a horizontal surface is measured using a pyranometer, Kipp and Zonen
B.V. model CM 11 (accuracy r10 W/ m2). The solar tunnel drier was instrumented with K-type thermocouples for measuring
temperatures of the flowing air along the flow direction of the air inside the drier the absorber plate and the cover plate. Ambient
humidity and temperature was measured by Testo model 175-2 (accuracy r0.5oC, r3%RH). The air flow rate was calculated from the
air velocity, measure by a hot wire anemometer (testo model 445, accuracy r 0.03 m/s) at the drier outlet, and the known duct area.
Weight loss of the product during the drying period was measured with an electronic balance (Sartorius model CP3202S accuracy
r0.01g) The sun drier control samples were weighted as well. All these data were recorded at 10 min intervals. The moisture contents
of the silkworm chrysalis were measured at the starting and end of each run of experiments by air oven method. Silkworm chrysalises
were then spread on stainless steel were screen trays in a thin layer. For each of the experimental runs the drier was loaded to the full
capacity of 28 kg of silkworm chrysalis. Testing started at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 4:30 p.m. for each day. To compare the
performance of the tunnel drier with that of the sun drying, control samples of silkworm chrysalis were placed on tray in a single
layer on a raised platform beside the drier. Both experimented and control samples were dried simultaneously under the same weather
condition.

3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The main characteristics, which are usually used for performance estimation of any solar drying system, are the drying rates and
the daily drying efficiency. The drying rate may be expressed as the thin layer drying equation;

dM (1)
k (M t  M e )
dt
where k = drying constant (s-1)
Me = equilibrium moisture content (%)
t = desired time period (s)

The moisture content on the dry basis Mt is the weight of moisture present in the product per unit weight of the product and is
represented as >9@

(W c  W d ) (2)
Mt
Wd
Where Wd = weight of dried product (kg)
Wc = initial weight of dried product (kg)
The instantaneous moisture content at any time can be calculated from the following equation;

ª M i  1 W t º (3)
M t « » 1
¬ Wi ¼

where Wt = weight of product to be dried at any time (kg)

The daily drying efficiency Kd is the ratio of energy required to evaporate the moisture from the silkworm chrysalis to the
insulation received over the area of the air heater, given as

Kd
> M t  M f W c L v / M c  1 @ (4)
IAt

where A = surface are of air heater (m2)


I = Solar intensity on horizontal surface (W/m2)
Lv = Latent heat of vaporization (J/kg)
Mf= Final moisture content (%)

3.1 Performance of the solar tunnel drier


Solar tunnel drier performance was compared between ambient temperatures for the period of experimentation. The performance
of the solar tunnel drier was highly dependent on the solar radiation and ambient temperature. The temperature difference between
inlet and outlet air was low in the morning and evening periods as compared to the afternoon where temperature difference was high
as shown in Fig.2. The drying air gained temperature with a minimum of 39oC to a maximum of 49oC at the corresponding air flow
rate of 0.3 m3/s.
50 1200
mv =0.3m3/s(10/5/49)

45 1000

Solar radiation,W/m2
Temperature. oC

40 800

35 600

Inlet air temperature


30 400
Outlet air temperature
Ambient temperature
Solar radiation
25 200
30

00

30

0
:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3
8:

9:

9:
10

10

11

11

12

12

13

13

14

14

15

15

16

16

Time of a day,h

Fig. 2 Variations of solar radiation, ambient temperature, inlet air temperature and outlet air temperature
with time a day for a typical experimental run during solar drying of silkworm chrysalis

3.2 Effect of air flow rate


Fig.3 shows graphic comparison of drying air temperature for four air flow rates of 0.2 m3/s, 0.3 m3/s, 0.4 m3/s, and 0.5 m3/s. It is
clear from the figure that the drying air temperatures are substantially higher for the present air heater, however, the difference
decrease with the increase in air flow rate.
70

Drying air temperature

60
Temperature,oC

50

40 mv=0.2m3/s
mv=0.3 m3/s
mv=0.4 m3/s
mv=0.5 m3/s
30
0

0
30

00

30
:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3

:0

:3
8:

9:

9:
10

10

11

11

12

12

13

13

14

14

15

15

16

16

Time of a day,h

Fig. 3 Comparison of drying air temperature for difference air flow rates
3.3 Daily drying efficiency of solar tunnel drier
The comparison of moisture content of silkworm chrysalis in the solar tunnel drier with open sun drying was shown in Fig.4.
Silkworm chrysalis was dried to a moisture content of 20% (d.b.) from 370.1% (d.b.) in 568 min at the corresponding air flow rate of
0.3 m3/s in the solar tunnel drier. As compared to 1320 min of drying in open sun to a final moisture content of 20% (d.b.).
400

350 mv=0.2m3/s
mv=0.3m3/s
300

Moisture content,%d.b.
mv=0.4m3/s
mv=0.5m3/s
250 Open sun drying

200

150

100

50

0
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400
Elapsed drying time,min

Fig. 4 Comparison of drying of silkworm chrysalis of solar tunnel drier at difference air flow rates with open sun

Variation of the daily drying efficiency of the solar tunnel drier for difference air flow rates is shown in Fig. 5. The maximum
daily efficiency was 27% at the air flow rate of 0.3 m3/s
28

27
Daily drying efficiency,%

26

25

24

23

22
0.1 0.2 0.3 Length,m 0.4 0.5 0.6

Fig. 5 Variation of the daily drying efficiency for difference air flow rates.

4. CONCLUSION

On the basis of the previous section, the following conclusion can be drawn:

1. The drying air temperature at the inlet of the drier is found in the range of 31-39 oC.
2. The solar tunnel drier can be used to dry up to 28 kg of silkworm chrysalis.
3. In all the cases, the use of this drier led to considerable reduction in drying time in comparison to the open sun drying.
4. The daily drying efficiencies are found in the range of 23-27%

5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors acknowledge the financial support for the project from the Silk Innovation Center, Mahasarakham University.

6. REFERENCES

[1] Jayaraman, K.S. and Gupta, D.K.(1995) Handbook of industrial drying, Marul Dekker Inc.
[2] El-Sebaii, A.A., Aboul-Enein, S., Ramadan, M.R.I.. and El-Gohary, H.G.(2002) Experimental investigation of an indirect type
natural convective solar dryer, Energy Conversive&Management, 43, pp.2251-2266.
[3] Amir, J.E., Grandegger,K.,Esper,A., Sumarono M., Djayer,C. and Muhlbaulr W.(1991) Development of a multi-purpose solar
tunnel dryer for use in humid tropics, Renewable Energy, 1, (2), pp.167-176.
[4] Garg, H.P. and Kumar, R.(2000) Studies on semi-cylindrical solar tunnel dryers: thermal performance of collector, Applied
Thermal Engineering, 20, pp. 115-131.
[5] Medved, S., Oman, J. and Novak, P.(1999) Numerical model and parametric analysis of an inflatable solar heater, Solar Energy,
65, (4), pp.263-270.
[6] Bala, B.K., Mondol, M.R.A., Biswas, B.K., Das Chowdury, B.L. and Janjai, S.(2003) Solar drying of pineapple using solar
tunnel drier, Renewable Energy, 28, 183-190.
[7] Hossain, M.A., Woods, J.L. and.Bala,B.K.(2005) Optimisation of solar drier for drying of chilli without color loss, Renewable
Energy, 30, pp. 729-742.
[8] Khedari, J., Sangprajak, A. and Hirunlabh, J.(2002) Thailand climatic zones, Renewable Energy, 25, pp.267-280.
[9] Zaman, M.A. and Bala, B.K.(1989) Thin layer solar drying of rough rice, Solar Energy, 42, pp.167-171.