Michael Machala (PhD MSE, Post Doc ERE), Andrey Poletayev (PhD MSE), Frederick Tan (BS ME), Rushil Prakash (MBA GSB, MS E-IPER), Prof. Sally Benson (ERE, PI)
We have developed and are deploying a new high-performance and affordable solar drying system for chili farmers in India. Traditional open-sun drying takes 2-3 weeks, leading to degradation of chili quality and loss of marketable chilies. Commercially available heat pump dryers can address this issue but require more electric power and CapEx than are available in rural areas. Our product dries chilies in 3-4 days, reducing risk while increasing chili quality and quantity. We accomplish this by utilizing thermal management techniques to convert a low-cost, inefficient greenhouse into a well-controlled drying structure. With our on-the-ground partners we have tested commercial-scale prototypes in India and plan to pilot a drying-as-a-service business model.